Pop punk is a genre often characterized by its youthfulness—“snooty” being an operative adjective for some of the best bands, many of whom might grow old but never grow up. And if the do grow up, they run they risk of maturing into the kind of pompous band that would release a rock opera that’s easily adaptable into something palatable for Broadway audiences (see Day, Green).
The 1995 album Bad Move Space Cadet by the defunct Reno band Zoinks! is not just a great pop punk record, it’s one of the few totally essential Reno rock records. That record’s principal author, guitarist-singer-songwriter Zac Damon, has had an interesting career. After leaving Zoinks!, there were stints in the Reno indie rock band Crushstory and the infamous punk band Screeching Weasel, as well as nearly 10 years fronting Big in Japan, a band that seemed perpetually on the verge of breaking to a wider audience.
His current project, Miracle Drugs, features Preston Duhon on drums, and Shane Forster, formerly of The Juvinals, on bass. The band just put out their debut record, a self-titled 7-inch. And it’s that rarity—a mature pop punk record.
The A-side, “I’ll Buy the Drinks” is a track about romantic cynicism. The chorus begins, “If I buy the drinks, will you pay the rent?” It’s very catchy, the kind of song that’ll have you singing along by the second listen. Damon’s voice sounds older, deeper and more rugged than even the last couple of Big in Japan records, but it works well for the wary and weary perspective of the song.
The flipside, “Oh, Sookie-O,” sometimes sounds like The Knack, and sometimes, weirdly enough, like Deep Purple. (In other words, it sounds like Cheap Trick.) It’s not quite as good as the A-side, but is still excellent. Overall, this is a promising single, hopefully soon to be followed by a full-length.