Today’s modern punk favourites are thrash hybrids that have merged and replaced yesteryear’s explosive success in death metal and hardcore. While many have left the alternative scene for the obnoxiously flourishing EDM craze, there is at least one more reason for Toronto punks to bust out their weathered, patched, leather and jean jackets, and that reason is School Damage.
School Damage are a very refreshing reminder for the modern crossover bands that you don’t need to be negative and violent to be punk. Real punk is about being an individual, having fun, and not being fazed by the opinions of others. With each release, School Damage bring punk back to its original roots.
According to their Bandcamp, School Damage define themselves as “Ramones-core” and “pop punk”. For the young, possibly confused circle pit warriors reading this, the latter label references the ’80s iteration of pop punk: fun, short, and having immature reasons to skank the hell out and criticize the status quo. Personally, I enjoy Blink-182 and think Man Overboard’s drummer is extremely talented, but the modern day definition of ‘pop punk’ has become subliminally interchangeable–music that concerns being sad about girls, while in a major key with gang vocals and diet-cola breakdowns. Yes, it turns a profit on the angsty and ex-deathcore crowd, but it is not philosophically punk.
This dedication to an ideology is evident in how School Damage price their two albums on Bandcamp: three dollars apiece. Their self-titled 2012 release does indeed have a Ramones-esque groove to it in terms of structure. School Damage has a distinct kick in attitude, but several play-throughs of this album had me thinking how much the band would benefit from refining their style.
Which is something they would do so in their next release, 2013’s Get Weird. There is a definite growth in style, most notably in the vocal delivery which sounds like ’90s (read: the good) AFI. The song that gave me this impression was the first track, “678 Bathurst St.”, which according to Google is the address of their record label, My Fingers! My Brains!.
Some of this improvement may be credited to superior mixing, but there is definitely more exploration guitar-wise from Brad n Manners, and a definite boost of confidence in the fury that is the drummer Curtis Tone. While the energy was in there in School Damage’s self-titled release, all of the drumming in Get Weird is faster and more unpredictable.
My favourite track is “See You Next Tuesday” (also an obligatory “ha” at that reference). This righteous rebellion against precarious employment stirs a teenage fury that I haven’t felt since the first time I discovered Dead Kennedys and Choking Victim.
This 7” sounds excellent and I hope to hear more from all the musicians on further releases. Don’t forget that all of School Damage’s music is being streamed for free at schooldamage.bandcamp.com.
Check out School Damage!
Author: Alex Slakva