CD This Is Only a Test [Digipak] [612851020221] (CD 7017393),
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This Is Only a Test [Digipak] [612851020221]

  • 1. Wish We Were
    2. How Dangerous
    3. This Is Only a Test
    4. College
    5. Punk Band
    6. Freakin Out
    7. Diary of a Teen Tragedy
    8. Excuse Me, Coach
    9. I've Got Mono
    10. Letter to Emily
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 0202

  • Credits
    ProducerMatt Allison; Smoking Popes
    EngineerMatt Allison

    Personnel: Josh Caterer, Eli Caterer (vocals, guitar); Neil Hennessy (vocals, drums); Matt Caterer (vocals).
    Audio Mixer: Matt Allison.
    Recording information: Atlas Studio, Chicago, IL.
    Concept albums are notoriously risky, but to his credit, Smoking Popes bandleader and songwriter Josh Caterer picked a pretty easy concept around which to unite the band's first album of new material since 2008: the songs are all written through the eyes of a single teenager. While they deal with some predictable themes -- obsessive and unrequited love ("Wish We Were," "Diary of a Teen Tragedy"); ambivalence about the future ("College"); mono ("I've Got Mono"), and rock & roll itself ("Punk Band") -- Caterer addresses them with a refreshing lack of either eye-rolling or rhapsodic mystification. It's so easy and so tempting to condescend to our younger selves, and one index of Caterer's maturity as a person is his ability to create a character who sings "I don't want to go to college. I don't want to be another puppet of the Man" without making him sound like an idiot. An index of his maturity as a musician is his ability to write two songs about love-from-afar that demonstrate how thin the line can be that separates harmless longing ("We're not going out/I just wish we were") from potentially dangerous obsession ("I could hear a voice within me crying out/She's the one/She is your destiny"). Another indication of the band's musical maturity is, of course, the blend of smoothly crooning vocals and meat-and-potatoes, punk-inflected pop that has always been the hallmark of the Smoking Popes' sound and has only become tighter, richer, and more hook-wise over the years. ~ Rick Anderson

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