Pop punk is a genre that seems to have a pretty strict criteria that most bands stick to. It’s a genre that you can pick out fast. Although shoegaze is a completely disparate genre it holds true as well. I can tell within the first thirty seconds if it's a shoegaze song.
The band Years Before consisting of Ian Ver (vocals/guitar), Anthony Dargaj (guitar), Josh Jansen (bass) and Kyle Clemenz (drums) have a familiar pop sound on their EP Hometown Zeros that has been pretty popular since the mid ’90s but they just do it really well. On their Bandcamp page they tag it with post-punk but to my ears it has very little in common with staples of the genre like Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and Wire.
For fans of pop punk there is certified listening. It’s just as good as any of the top tier acts you may have heard on the radio. That’s for two main reasons. First off the band started in 2004 which in band years are veterans. The band is extremely tight and professional sounding. Their experience is obvious. The other factor is the production that is radio ready. They worked with a friend at a studio and the results are unequivocally professional.
The band isn’t reinventing the wheel on these songs; in fact they embrace the staples of the genre. Take for instance the opener “Start The Fire” which contains impressive vocal harmonies, pounding dynamic drums palm muted guitar with harmonics.
The band continues with songs that don’t deviate much at all from the energy of the opener. “Wearing Thin” builds on the foundation they established with the opener with an assault of guitar, bass and drums. As the EP progresses don’t expect any ballads. They thoroughly rock out on “Live Forever,” “Tear Me Away” and “We're Home.”
Will Hometown Zeros convert people who were never into the genre to begin with? No, almost certainly not. On that note, fans of pop punk may have just found their new favorite band.
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