Read Hard’s Classic Pop Punk Picks #12: The Ergs!- Dorkrockcorkrod

Posted: September 2, 2014 in Read Hard's Classic Pop Punk Picks

dorkrockcorkrod cover art

Now to the pop punk band that maybe in later years have had their biggest success outside their New Jersey scene, The Ergs!! A band that not only write great pop punk songs, but also incorporate jazz, country and 90’s alternative rock in the mix. Heavily influenced by The Descendents, they have made some of the greatest punk records in recent years, until they broke up in 2008. This was around the time I got into them. Like many bands at the time, what really got me liking them was hearing “Introducing Morrissey” on the great Canadian Rocket to Russia show. After that I ordered their compilation Hindsight is 20/20 my friend from No idea records. This was a start of a new infatuation for me, before this I had never gotten what the Ergs! Fuzz was about, but now I got it! What I really liked was all their different styles, jazzy songs, country songs and hardcore punk songs. And covering anything from the Steinways to the Beatles to Nirvana to the Neurotic outsiders. They put out two full length albums: Dorkrockcorkrod and Upstairs/downstairs. I think the latter is a way better album when it comes to individual songs, it has a great pop punk song like “Trouble in river city”, and Dorkrockcorkrod does not have songs even close to “Books about Miles Davies” and the country jam “Stinking of whiskey blues”, but as an album it’s way more consistent and you can get many different genres and styles just in one song. It’s also an album that gets better every time you listen to it; that’s why this column’s pop punk pick is Dorkrockcorkrod.

Dorkrockcorkrod was released in 2004 on Whoa oh records and in August 2005 on Don Giovanni records. The cover has a pair of sunglasses (symbolizing “dork”) a rock, a cork and a rod. The band consists of Jeff Erg (now in Black wine) on guitar, Joe Erg (now in Night Birds) on the bass and last, but not least Mikey Erg on drums and lead vocals. Every member of the band sings lead vocals every once in a while, in spite of Mikey, the drummer, singing and writing most of them. Mikey is famous for playing drums in several bands including House Boat, Star Fucking Hipsters, Measure SA, The Parasites, Dirt Bike Annie (which definitely should appear in this column some day), Short Attention and The Unlovables, as well as playing guitar in the Dopamines. Obviously as well as being a great and talented musician, in my opinion where Mikey really excels is in songwriting, and I’m still anticipating a band where Mikey sings lead vocals and writes the songs like he did in the Ergs!

———————————————————————————————————–

  1. “First Song Side One”: A short introduction to the album. It clocks in at 22 seconds. But it still gives the listener a glimpse of what’s to come. The first line in the song, and on the album for that matter, are “I’m in love, I’m in trouble” which is a clear reference to the Replacement’s song “I’m in trouble” which the band covered on a Replacements tribute, and also appears on hindsight is 20/20, my friend. Westerberg yells out “You’re in love and I’m in trouble”, while in “First song side one” Mikey Erg! Sings “I’m in love, I’m in trouble” showing in a different way how love means trouble for the protagonist, but the protagonist in the Ergs! Song claims it’s the girl of his dreams’ fault that he is losing sleep; while Westerberg is troubled by the infatuation someone else has for him.
  1. “A Very Pretty Song For a Very Special Young Lady Part 2”: While it could be a continuation of the last song, this song touches on the all familiar pop punk theme of unrequited love. What really makes this song great is the background vocals in the pre-choruses. Again the protagonist is losing sleep over his infatuation like in the first song. These are some of the best lyrics ever:

“And I love you more than I could say
And probably more than you’d ever wanna hear anyway
But I’m sure you get that an awful lot
And I miss you more than you could know
And no matter how I try I just can’t let it go
I’m hoping you feel the same way, probably not”.

The last chorus is a lot slower than the earlier ones and almost shows a Spanish influence.

  1. “Extra Medium”: A straight up pop punk number. It’s about modern age paranoia and escaping from the cruel, cruel world in a shower with hot water and tile, and hiding away from the news and every other terrifying reassurance that the world really is a terrible place. The song also shows that to some degree hiding from reality, trying to find places to go, music to listen to, things to do, makes us escape things that worry us, but the protagonist in the song just takes it further by absolutely trying to be isolated from the dreaded world. The title is also quite witty.
  2. “Fishbulb”: A song sung by Jeff Erg, it’s maybe not one of his best, but it’s really different to Mikey’s songs. The lyrics are almost surreal and seem to tell a story of love, loss and strange dreams. Maybe the song on the album with the most jazz influences.
  3. “Most Violent Rap Group”: The Ergs! With their weird titles! This song really doesn’t have much (as far as I can see) to do with hip hop, rap or any violence related to it. The song seems to be about being far away from someone, either in a different time zone or a different time. Apparently the other person is 7 days behind the protagonist, but I’m sure that’s just a clever use of hyperbole. Hopeless and self-deprecating like pop punk should be!
  4. “Pray for Rain”: Again this is most likely a continuation of the last song. The song seems to be about being far away from a lover, which also ruins the relationship, but the sample at the end of the song could also have been misplaced and suited for more “Most Violent Rap Group”. “Pray for Rain” it’s a classic pop punk song. It gives the bittersweet feeling of love; “I’m sore from the smiles that you’ve given to me”. The song seems like a break up song, but is mostly because of the protagonist’s imagining the inevitable break up. The song reminds me of the Everly Brother’s “Crying in the Rain”, where the dreadful image of rain hides the actual tears and sadness the protagonist feels. The protagonist claims he could write the love of his a perfect song, and maybe he did!
  5. “Saturday Night Crap-o-Rama”: A song I heard first on Hindsight is 20/20, my friend and one of my favorite songs off of that. I think this is one of the first Ergs! Songs that was were recorded. Like many other pop punk songs, though being catchy, deals with sadness and heartbreak and seeing someone you love having a relationship with someone else. The song also has a meta-aspect of it, like the song before, of singing about writing a song, this time a broken hearted love song. The title is also lovely in this song.
  6. “Running, Jumping, Standing still”: This was the first song that really caught my attention on the album. It starts with Mikey singing “It’s been sometime and I don’t know what to do with myself these days” and later show his longing for not wanting to be alone. The song gives the picture of a lonely protagonist calling his former love or someone he is secretly in love with in his mind and them never answering the phone. Maybe one of the Erg’s cleverest lyrics is “you’re the one and I’m the zero”
  7. “It’s Never Going to be the Same Again”: I think sometimes everyone has a day where they feel like from this day on nothing’s gonna ever be the same again, so this title always gives me chills down my spine. It has the great lyric “No more innocence, a sense of fear has taken hold/Or maybe its uncertainty of a brave new future untold” and I also love how the first chorus says he doesn’t know if it’s a bad thing (that it’s never going to be the same again) and he doesn’t know if it’s a good thing in the second.
  8. “August 19th”: Another song that also appeared on Hindsight is 20/20, My Friend. The song seems to be about some kind of anniversary that is special to the protagonist, but the receiver of the song doesn’t seem to give a fuck, or maybe it’s the opposite! I love the line “you’d better not miss the last train to Loserville”.
  9. “Maybe I’m the New Messiah”: This song seems to be a reference to the 90s British sitcom “Bottom” where recently deceased Rik Mayall (R.I.P) believes he is the new Messiah; he also has songwriting credits to the song and Joe tries to impersonate him.
  10. “Rod Argent”: Rod Argent is famous for his work with the awesome 60’s psychedelic pop band the Zombies as well as his band Argent having the original to “God Gave Rock n’ Roll to you”. “Rod Argent” is the catchy pop song on the album with a suiting “Fuck you” by the end. It also has a strange guitar that pulls the song away from the popside.
  11. “Everything Falls Apart (and More)”: One of the most classic Ergs! Songs is “Kind of Like Smitten (itself is a reference to the folk rock band Kind of Like Spitting) and its line “When I see you tonight it’s gonna be so cool, we could watch TV and maybe listen to some Hüsker dü”, I really liked this line when I first heard it in 2008, because I had just gotten into Hüsker dü. The name means “Do you remember?” in Scandinavian languages; it’s apparently a Danish board game. I had always wanted to check them out, with the Scandinavian band name and all. I got an album of theirs at an airport in February 2007; the album was Everything falls apart and more and it was one of my favorite titles ever. I liked the image of everything falling and there was more too; it was almost surreal. I was a bit disappointed when I realized the album was actually just called Everything falls apart and it also included bonus tracks from 7”s ( AKA “more”). However, when I saw this Ergs! Title I realized that someone else thought the same as me. I think “See Him Again” from Upstairs/downstairs is very similar to “Everything Falls Apart (and More)” both in style, melody and lyrics. Both songs has a protagonist that prefers being lied to instead of facing the hurtful truth. They are both great songs, and they are among the slowest the Ergs! have recorded.
  12. “Vampire Party”: One of the songs a lot of people seem to dislike on the album, but I like it a lot. It’s a cover of 90s rock band Crimony. The Ergs!’ version is way better. “They’re a jolly bunch and they’re coming after you!”
  13. “I Feel Better Tonight”: Like I’ve said earlier, Upstairs/downstairs was the album that really had the different songs like “Books about Miles Davies” and “Stinkin’ of Whiskey Blues”, and on this album “I Feel Better Tonight” might be the song that sticks out most. It’s another Jeff song and it might as well be a punk song from the 80s. While Dorkrockcorkrod doesn’t have a country song like “Stinkin’ of Whiskey Blues” on Upstairs/downstairs (the Ergs! Really show their country abilities on their “Cotton Pickin’ minute” 7’’ with songs like “On the interstate”), but “I Feel Better Tonight” does have a little country-ish moment by the end. If I have a bad day, I often listen to this song the day after and it feels better.
  14. “180 Emotional Ollie”: An Ollie is a skateboard trick! I remember that shit from Tony Hawk’s pro skater! A 180 Ollie is an Ollie that goes 180 degrees, I believe. The trick involves the skater leaping themselves and their board into the air without using the hands. The song uses the trick as a metaphor for the emotional tricks someone has pulled on you: “Cuz I’m not falling for your double tricks again”. The protagonist in the song clearly states that they won’t touch the ground and will not be walked on anymore. A skateboarding metaphor seems suitable and clever in this postmodern punk rock world.

—————————————————————————————————————

As I wrote this I realized that the album is celebrating its 10th anniversary. The Ergs! are releasing an anniversary edition of the album on vinyl. So this unintentionally was an 10th anniversary article! Next pop punk pick will be an intentional 20th anniversary article: NOFX’s “Punk in Drublic”.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s