A few weeks ago I was walking home from work and as I walked past the small skate park there were three kids skating. They had their car pulled up close with the windows down so they could hear the eurotrash that was playing on the car’s stereo. I asked the question that any self respecting skater from the 90’s would have asked “Do you actually skate to this?” To my surprise they replied quite proudly, “Yes!” I couldn’t help but think that if they had been skating with some of the people that I did that they would have had their boards taken forcefully and probably “focused” (which is what we called breaking the board in half).
It has been a few years since I have actually stepped on a skateboard in any meaningful way, but when I was skating in the mid ’90’s we were experiencing punk’s 3rd wave and height of popularity (check out the recent documentary One Nine Nine Four for more on this). It wasn’t uncommon for someone to be listening to Bad Religion’s Stranger Than Fiction, The Offspring’s Smash, or Pennywise’s About Time.
It was the latter album that I would end up associating skating during those times with. A lot has changed since those years though for Pennywise. One of the biggest changes of course is the replacement of Jim Lindberg with Zoli Teglas on vocals. Even though Jim has moved on to form another group and it was easy for me to accept them, I was much more skeptical of the new Pennywise. I think it was because I had always associated Jim’s voice as being Pennywise and I wasn’t sure that they could move on without him. Even after hearing the first two singles “All or Nothing”, and “Let us Hear Your Voice”, which I ,the uncertainty over their new direction still remained.
I am now starting to think that it was because an initial synopsis said that it Pennywise’s best since Full Circle, which I definitely contend with, but not because All or Nothing isn’t good like I initially thought, but mostly because I really enjoyed Reason to Believe (Pennywise’s previous effort).
As I am now listening to All or Nothing for my 5th or 6th time, I am starting to let go of that skepticism, and letting it be what it is, which is a solid punk rock album that can stand head to head with any other Pennywise album. Zoli Teglas steps in to fill the void Jim has left, and truly makes being the lead vocalist for Pennywise his own, which wouldn’t be an easy task for a lesser band let alone punk rock legends. There are songs on the album that will remind long time fans of past music, and it also has a few songs that will leave fans feel as if they are listening to something fresh and new. So while I was skeptical of the addition of Teglas originally, it turns out he can not only match the band’s past energy he also brings a fresh sound that helps vary the bands sound in a good way.
Pennywise has been spreading messages of staying strong through adversity for years, and they have taken their own advice and turned out a very strong showing with their latest album. I would recommend this album to anyone, and I actually have two copies of the cd, so I have been carrying one in my pocket when I go to work so that if I see those kids skating again I can give it to them so they have something to skate to.