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A melodic punk

Too Cool for School
Too Cool for School
By The Heartaches

Swami Records: 2007

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This review first appeared in the Oct. 18, 2007 issue of the North County Times.

On what is apparently their debut, San Diego's The Heartaches display a melodic if straight-up pop punk leaning more toward the punk side of things. It's old-school SoCal punk at that, hearkening to the raw, jangly guitar-based punk of the early 1980s. Punkish, too, is the fact that most of the 15 songs clock in at well under 3 minutes, and some are less than 2 minutes.

But the punk tendencies are leavened by some pretty sweet vocal harmonies and backing choruses, which remind more of Cheap Trick than TSOL or the Dead Kennedys.

Lead singer Bilily Dee Williams (which seems likely a stage name) has a strong voice, and could probably tackle a love ballad if he chose. Instead, he seems to intentionally try to sing rougher than is his natural voice. The twin guitars of Billy Heartache and El Man Del Diablo are all rhythm and dissonance, the bass (Mean Dean Okerlund) and drums (Svitak) an insistent pounding – the combination not too far off the Ramones and the Clash.

All in all, it's a fun listen, and a strong debut.