I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Epitaph Records. If they had listened to me and my friends’ complaints about signing bands that didn’t sound enough like Bad Religion back in the early 2000s, they’d surely be as defunct as so many of the once great labels they stood beside. Instead, they branched out from their skate punk roots and embraced a range of diversity from metal-core to pop-punk. I could never get behind the persistent signing of the predators that once stalked Warped Tour. I am, however, a huge fan of gems that emerged like The Matches, Motion City Soundtrack, and now Remo Drive.
Natural, Everyday Degradation is the second offering from brothers Erik and Stephen Paulson and my first experience with the band. I had no idea what to expect, but was delighted with the immediate memories of Tom Petty, The Killers, or Franz Ferdinand that were elicited. The dreamy, lofty vocal melodies are grounded by punchy drums and bouncy guitar work. “Two Bux” opens the record with a bang and grabs you with a sneaky hook that teases the promise of more to come.
The way the band manages to both put together highly polished, well thought out music, while at the same time not taking themselves too seriously is one of my favorite aspects of this album. It’s hard to describe the kind of rock they play as anything but weird. It frequently works to Remo Drive’s advantage every time they lean into that. Listening to the tongue in cheek chorus of “Shakin'” is the best example of this and calls to mind Archie Powell & the Exports‘ skewed take on modern rock.
As the curse of aging continues to ravage my patience for anything new, I am always relieved to get my hands on something that makes my insides stir. Natural, Everyday Degradation is the perfect album to put on and get lost in a summer afternoon. If I still had a car, this is definitely the windows down, obnoxiously loud sing-along kind of record I would play. Remo Drive isn’t out to re-invent the wheel, but offer you a hell of a tribute to what has come before.