The 1970’s brought us punk rock music. Bands like the MC5, the Clash, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones defined what punk rock is — not only the musical style, but the lifestyle itself. Everything from mohawks to safety pins can be traced back to here.
The 90’s brought us pop-punk. Bands like the Offspring, Rancid, and Green Day took the three chord attack made famous by punk rock, dabbled in the “bad boy attitude” and mixed it all with a bit of pop sensibility, and came up with a style of music that seemed dangerous enough to keep kid’s interest, while keeping it all safe enough to swarm MTV’s airwaves.
S.T.U.N., (short for “Scream Toward the Uprising of Non-Conformity”) would love for you to believe that they’re a member of the former group rather than the latter, that they’re punks with an attitude and a penchant for protesting against “the man”. Upon closer inspection, however, the truth begins to emerge.
S.T.U.N. hates the man. While comparing themselves to both the Clash and the Sex Pistols in their bio material, they strut around in their Converse shoes and Ramones shirts, talking about their revolution against the man.
In fact, these guys hate the man so much that they … signed to Geffen and joined the Vans’ Warped Tour. Gone is the hand-drawn, crude DIY punk marketing graphics of old. Along with the band’s debut CD, I also received a DVD of the band performing several of their songs live. If that doesn’t get you to join the revolution, maybe their flash-heavy site will, which is packed with enough java, windows media and real video clips to choke even the fastest internet connection. Gone are the clip art cut and pasted flyers for advertising — they’ve been replaced by links to the band’s MTV.Com A-Z page, notes about their M2 appearances, tour e-cards, and of course the S.T.U.N store which has all the S.T.U.N. merchandise.
Also gone is the old punk tradition of trading underground tapes with friends. S.T.U.N.’s Evolution of Energy is copy protected, meaning you won’t be sharing this punk CD with your punk friends (or listening to it on your punk MP3 player or your punk laptop, which is how I do most of my reviews these days).
So when you get down to the bottom line, the music is … pretty good. While the opening track “Movement” sounds eerily like Rage Against the Machine, the band switches gears pretty quickly and it’s pop-punkville all the way from there. The music does exactly what it’s supposed to do — despite the fact that I don’t really like what this band stands for, I found myself tapping my feet and nodding my head along song after song. And song after song, S.T.U.N. tells you about the revolution, in songs like “Here Comes the Underground”, “We Want You”, “The Future is Now”, and “We Will Come To You”.
S.T.U.N. spends a bit too much energy trying to convince us they’re punk. Their DVD is packed with clips of band members destroying instruments and jumping off tall stacks of speakers (and that damn Ramones shirt, which is featured so often it’s almost like a fifth member of the band).
I don’t know if the corporate music world helped form S.T.U.N. or just hitched their wagon to them and packaged their essence. Either way, the glossy coat sprayed over the whole project ruins it for me. It’s like getting money from the tooth fairy after you already found out she was really your parents but didn’t tell anybody — while you feel a little dirty for keeping the dollar, a buck’s a buck. The irony of this band recording a bunch of songs about being original is amusing.
Those of you who put safety pins in your clothes as a fashion statement will probably love Evolution of Energy. Those who have used safety pins to hold your clothes together probably won’t listen long enough to even snicker.