Review: The Bombpops – Death In Venice Beach

The Bombpops have always been a band that I should be in love with. Raging guitars, dual female vocals, and slick Drive-Thru Records pop sensationalism sound like keys to success. However, the band’s first album, Fear of Missing Out (2017) never quite clicked with its songs about partying in California. What that album lacked was the acknowledgment of the hangover the next day (with exception to the references to shitting your pants in “I Can’t”). That’s why their sophomore effort, Death In Venice Beach feels so vividly refreshing as a follow up. Facing the consequences of punishing your body and mind, the dark side of alcoholism and tying it together with troubled romance, Death in Venice Beach is the album The Bombpops were always meant to write.

You can buy or stream Death in Venice Beach on Apple Music.

Vocalists and guitarists Jen Razavi and Poli van Dam cruise through each song with surprising executions of pop melodies while maintaining an almost monotone punk sneer similar to Bad Religion (“Can’t Come Clean”). They hoist a devastating wall of noise and thrilling guitar work that sounds equal parts flashy, buzzy and infectious (“Notre Dame”). Bassist Neil Wayne weaves incredible bass lines throughout every song that really stand out due to stellar production (“Sad To Me”). Drummer Josh Lewis excels at the style of punk rock percussion that helped me fall in love with the genre in the first place (“13 Stories Down”).

Death In Venice Beach really shines in the small details that show the aftermath of living hard, and dealing with life unraveling around you. The destructive alcoholism is a prominent theme that filters throughout the album. “Can’t Come Clean” is a rager that admits the fault in starting drunken fights and the shame that follows after sobering up. Audio of an argument where one of the band members threatens to quit plays at the start, making lyrics such as, “I’m always posting things on the internet / And if I ever read the bullshit, it makes me regret everything / That’s why I can’t come clean,” even more pronounced.

Rock bottom appears during “13 Stories Down” with the vivid descriptions of isolation due to alcoholism, a relationship that keeps pushing the situation, and admitting that this lifestyle will end up killing them. It’s a heartbreaking song boosted by an uplifting pop tempo and soaring bass (“Home alone cuz once again / I’ve been ditched by all my so-called friends / There’s nothing left but pull that bottle off the shelf / And catalog my worst regrets…”).

“Double Arrows Down”, a terrifying tale of passing out in a gas station from complications with diabetes, is equal parts remorseful and rage at the condition. “There’s days I wanna close my eyes and never wake up to my numbers high / Just lay there until all I read is low / … / This needle’s wearing thin and there’s no end”.

Thankfully, not every song is so massively heavy. “Sad To Me”, a pop punk essential in the vein of an early track from The Starting Line, is primed to be a live show defining number. “Notre Dame” compares a toxic relationship to watching the famed cathedral burn by wondering how after all the time it took to build up something sacred, it just ends in destruction.

Death In Venice Beach isn’t as coherent as it could be given the amount of topics covered from song to song, but it is a thrilling collection of stories woven together. It acts as a perfect counterbalance to the issues found on Fear of Missing Out and makes The Bombpops are an absolute force to be reckoned with in the punk scene. With stellar craftsmanship, writing and production, Death in Venice Beach is an album that should be talked about up until the release of The Bombpops’ next album.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and smells of sweet, delicious scones.

“The Rock Stage is WHERE?” Riot Fest 2014 – Day 1

RiotFest

All things considered, Riot Fest is one of the best music festivals in North America. The few cities to host it bring in the biggest names in rock, along with the festive atmosphere that only brightly lit carnival rides can muster. It’s an incredible journey that traverses decades of influence, drawing bands just as famous now as they were twenty years ago, much less bands currently on fire. And the first day of it was arguably quite miserable. There’s a saying that it’s not punk rock without mud, and Riot Fest was muddy as shit.

Prior to the gates even opening, the rain had fallen for hours to varying degrees. Paired with a cold wind and the rapidly falling temperatures of a Midwest autumn, the evening became the coldest night in months. By the end of the night I was decked out in two shirts, two hoodies and a last minute purchased rain poncho that offered no protection from the weather.

Due to unforeseen circumstance, I was unable to arrive until later in the evening, able to see just a couple of acts and get a feel for the grounds. I am obviously not aware of what led to the planning of the festival and what led it to be held on the other half of Humboldt Park this year, but it was a poor substitute for last year’s layout.

A year ago, the stages were further apart but the grounds were an open sandbox that allowed attendees to find their own path to any part of the park. It allowed for people to see the differing stages from multiple views without the bands stepping on each others sound while the merch tables and beer stands were to the sides and out of the way. The only things to possibly get in the way were the carnival rides facing the main stages.

While this part of Humboldt was definitely bigger, the layout was way more haphazard. Instead of an open layout, there was a clear arcing path alongside the outside of the given area, as a majority of the inner part was a large pond. The main stages were closer together so that it was easier to camp out and enjoy an area for large portions of the day, but maneuvering was considerably difficult.

The main entrance was alone at one end, away from everything and requiring a several minute walk just to see the first stage. Food carts lined the arched outer area, which meant that they were all together for convenience, but directly in the way of the main lanes of foot traffic. In order to avoid this, you were forced to walk through the crowds of the bands playing. Anyone hurrying to see a headliner would find themselves stuck in needless gridlocks of people for minutes at a time due to the few congested pathways.

The stages so close together made it simple if you were planning to stand in one place all day, but making your way to a stage could be problematic, as the areas for the bands was smaller because oftentimes half of the given area was taken up by people waiting for  the next band thirty minutes away. This wasn’t necessarily the case all the time, but I found it an issue while trying to jump between acts.

The night wasn’t without its merits though: Rise Against were pretty sweet. As one of the headliners, they took over one of the stages at the far end of the festival. The weather did little to stifle the energy of the bands that evening but being in their hometown of Chicago, Rise Against laughed it off on stage. Their set toured throughout their discography, spending the largest amount of time with songs from The Sufferer and the Witness before inviting Fat Mike from NOFX onstage to play a couple of Ramones songs. They were sadly all I managed to spy with my little eye.

While opening night felt miserable, the energy rewarded anyone willing to brave the storm and lay the foundation for the next two days. The mud would dry and the rain gave way to warm sun and cool breezes, a vast contrast to the brutal sun of Warped Tour. The grounds proved trickier to manage than in years past but ultimately not much of a trial for the persistent. Riot Fest brought autumn to the Midwest in epic fashion.

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and was stuck in rush hour traffic for two goddamned hours the opening night of Riot Fest. Please make voodoo dolls of him.