Wednesday, July 11, 2007

em ex pee ex: an essay about why this record even exists

Sometime last week, Joel Hartse pondered why MxPx is releasing their new album, "Secret Weapon," through Tooth and Nail Records, their original home, after years of back-and-forth shit talk and some failed lawsuits.

The ill feelings between these two parties is nothing short of legendary rumors and fantastic stories from some people who've floated throughout my life. When this release was first announced, I actually felt a little relieved, and found that this reunion was necessary. Maybe I'm just a nostalgic fool, but I can clearly remember the first time I heard "Life in General" where I was immediately blown away with how much I liked the record; I didn't even give a fuck that they were on a Christian label, hell I didn't even know they were down with the King. I'd like to think that for a handful of kids like us, MxPx and Brandon Ebel (Tooth and Nail's founder) buried the hatchet and wanted to partner up and give us some rockin' tunes, "Punk Rawk Show" stylee.

Now as I listen to "Secret Weapon," the special edition no less, I realize that there's one reason why MxPx and Tooth and Nail have released a new album together:

This album has hooks, it's poppy as hell and, lyrics aside, it's pretty solid, which saying a lot for a latter-era MxPx album. But there's something seedy and disingenuous about this album at the same time. There's a part in the ill-titled "Punk Rawk Celebrity" where out of nowhere horns start playing I thought, "What the fuck is this? Save Ferris?"

Simply put, MxPx is the Christian pop-punk version of Matthew McConaughey in "Dazed and Confused;" to paraphrase: they get older, but the kids stay the same age. After their failed attempt to crossover via a major label and a slapdashed effort to get back their "street cred" by forging a relationship with indie label Sideonedummy, Mike, Yuri and Tom are chomping at the bit for success, revisiting the ferocity of 1994's "Pokinatcha" in order to pay off their car notes and mortgages.

As long as there are bills to pay, MxPx will always exist, but that doesn't mean that they have to keep releasing new albums. By doing this, they're paving the way for lesser bands such as Ghotti Hook, Slick Shoes and Fanmail to reunite, which the world doesn't need at all.

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At 10:24 AM , Blogger Joel said...

Great commentary, Ryan. I haven't heard it yet (you so have the hookup on punk rock more than I do!), but I am leaning toward agreeing with that large JPEG in the middle of your post. I don't think I will ever forgive MxPx for "Before Everything and After." I'm sure "the label made them," or whatever, but YEESH. I felt the same way as you did, though -- when I first heard they were back at T&N I was like "ahhhh." Although I no longer own any of their albums, I remain curious. Since I grew up with the "alternative" Christian music explosion of the 1990s, it's interesting to see a band from that era make the jump back, essentially, into the ghetto.


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