Friday Favorite: The Bouncing Souls – How I Spent My Summer Vacation

It’s time for me to reveal my favorite album of all time, don’t you agree? It isn’t something most music bloggist would quote as memorable or musically important, but for me it holds more memories and meaning than a yearbook. My favorite all time album is How I Spent My Summer Vacation by punk rock four-piece, The Bouncing Souls.

The Bouncing Souls are celebrating 20 years of awesomeness this year, which I don’t really understand. The band formed in 1987, after all, in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The Souls aren’t exactly the most musically talented lot on the block, but the idea of going to college wasn’t appealing to them so they figured being a band was a better option. Live for today, live the right way, seems to be the Souls mantra as they lived out of their beaten up punk vans driving across the country to play seedy bars for years. They lived in punk houses in Jersey then New York City filled with people and thrift store furniture and house parties like you wouldn’t believe. 
But then something happened. The started getting fans and their music, though simple, fast, three chord punk rock, grew tighter and catchier. What else to do but begin to take themselves seriously? Since 1987 the Souls have only released 7 studio albums, but they have a ton of EP’s and 7″ (which is much more punk, after all). 
The late 90’s is when some of the more important Souls records were released, but the one which touches my heart strings is 2001’s How I Spent My Summer Vacation. By this point the Souls have perfected their light-hearted but well-meaning punk rock. Album opener “That Song” is about spinning the tunes that matter to you, which boasts possibly their strongest lyric “If I want to change the world, it’s got to start with me”. “Private Radio” follows strongly with a similar call to follow your music, especially the music that matters to you. The most recognizable Souls song to outsiders is third, “True Believers”, which it should be. A strong song of friendship and being true to yourself and your friends. Tracks 5 and 6 both bleed nostalgia and have a sad edge, as you might imagine over a female.
“Lifetime” opens with an acoustic riff, which the Souls will throw in from time to time. Another song of love lost. Track 8 is another of the standout tracks on the album, “Manthem”, which is essentially the punk rock version of Bro’s Before Hoe’s. “Break up Song” and “Streetlight Serenade” keep the Souls catchiness but are still more “sorry you’re gone” tracks that are getting repetitive by now. “Late Bloomer”, another acoustic opener, is a damn good punk rock love song with emotion and edge to kill. “No Comply” is a short and sweet, upbeat track with the easiest chorus ever, “I feel great, how bout you?”. The four minute closer, “Gone” is excellent and traces lead singer Greg’s battle with depression. The song ends on a positive note, “My heart is real”.
Positive punk rock might seem like an oxymoron, but for the Souls it’s what they do best. Short, simple rhymes, easy chords, and a big heart. I guess that’s why they’re still around.
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