Five perfect pop (punk) singles

I went to play my “Don’t Take My Clone” single this morning and found that it had mysteriously vanished. That’s a bummer but rather than get all sad, let’s spin it into something cool.

Originally, I was going to write my list of THE FIVE GREATEST POP (PUNK) SINGLES OF ALL TIME. But that’s a little tough and I’m struggling with the parameters. For example, the song “West Side Highway” by Pinhead Gunpowder is as good as it gets but is that record one of the greatest singles of all time? A single is usually just two songs and that 7-inch has three (one of which is even on Side-A!) Furthermore, those other two songs… not that great. Now, if there had just been one other song and it was on Side-B, well, that’d be another story. (If the “single” on “the single” is good enough, Side-B can be fucking empty for all I care). But [whatever]. Got an idea of the parameters we’re working with? Cool, let’s go.

HUNCHBACK – Werse Houses b/w Beautiful
The best song in Hunchback’s catalog is the fucking creepy-crawliest, haunted, spooky song I’ve ever heard. From the opening bass riff and screeching keys to the way Mike stumbles and stutters through every word, this song is the musical manifestation of mental illness. In the midst of his refrain (“just let me taste it“) he breaks to ask “Will you please play my mommy? I’ll play your little boy. I’ll be your little man if you could just play my mommy… [voice trails off].” The whispers, the screams – it’s all so fucking perfect. As for the spelling of the title – I don’t know what they had in mind – but stupidity is scary. You can’t reason with stupidity. Fuck The Monster Mash – this is the Halloween song so far as I’m concerned.

On Side-B, we’ve got Beautiful, which I’ve been told is Christina Aguleira’s anthem for gay teens or fat teens or [some group of] teens. Personally, a song with so simple an affirmation (“I am beautiful“) wouldn’t have made a shit bit of difference in making me feel any better about myself as a kid, but if someone else was comforted by it: cool. In any case, this “reimagining” is pretty disturbed and isn’t at all “beautiful. If anything, it’s ugly (in the best way possible). A little kid’s voice – cute in some other context but buried just a little bit in the mix behind a piano and some humming – is anything but cute. It’s got the same dark/scary vibe as Werse Houses but isn’t quite as strong – which makes it the perfect b-side.

werse houses

Riverboat Gamblers – Keep Me From Drinking b/w No Fair
Being on a “bigger” label is weird – on the one hand – when To the Confusion of Our Enemies came out, Riverboat Gamblers got a bunch of attention from Spin and Rolling Stone and other shitty mainstream press. On the other, fucking nobody even knows that this non-album single even exists. Volcom has no connection with any of the labels and distros that carry stuff like this, so probably the only place to grab a copy (other than at RbG’s shows) was at stores like Hot Topic or Best Buy. [Does Best Buy carry vinyl?]

These songs were recorded in the same sessions as To the Confusion of Our Enemies but were left off the record, which is kind of funny since the re-recorded version of Keep Me From Drinking is one of the strongest songs on the band’s next record, Underneath the Owl. (Even if that version does sound like the band recorded in a nursing home with seniors screaming at them,  “No, no, no! Play it right! Too noisy!”) Anyway, this version sounds rough and raw and awesome. A great song about the way we live and crossing that bridge when we come to it; tomorrow’s consequences aren’t ’til tomorrow – and tomorrow’s like… almost a whole day from now!

No Fair could have also been a standout track on Underneath the Owl. It’s not quite as special as Keep Me, but it’s got the right energy and attitude for dancing to in the hallway as you watch your girlfriend poop. What?


Let’s make this a TO BE CONTINUED. Nobody really wants to read this many words from me all at once, do they?

(Uploaded this myself and dumped a bunch of random images of my art into iMovie; figured it’d be more entertaining than four minutes of the album cover).


  • Astonishingly, Sacred Bones Records still has copies of Werse Houses. YOU SHOULD BUY ONE OF THEM.
  • Some dorks are selling copies of Keep Me From Drinking through Discogs.

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