Sunday, October 13, 2019
Poppy Robbie - The Troubled Times of Samuel Heck
I always feel like the old man running kids off his lawn when I reference obscure early 2000s pop-punk. It's like, "What do you mean you don't remember The Koopas?! You lousy punks don't realize how great music used to be when bands made records like Sex, Lies, and Video Games!" I bet my man Ralph Rivera will back me up on this: The Koopas were one of the best bands working that genre circa the turn of the century. But it's been 17 years since The Koopas split, and no one would expect front-man Poppy Robbie to still be writing songs like "Shut Up" in 2019. On his solo debut The Troubled Times of Samuel Heck, Robbie has essentially made his own Nebraska. This is about as stripped-down and DIY as it gets. It's like you're hanging out on the back porch with the native Texan, now Oregon-based Robbie. He's got his acoustic guitar, and he's playing country, blues, and folk ballads. He even did the packaging by hand - with the CD designed to look like a vinyl record! That knack for melody and wordplay that allowed him to ascend to the elected position of Dictator of Pop still shines through on these five tracks. But here he's fully embracing his Texas roots and stepping into the role of the storyteller. There are moments where you can imagine these demos as fully flushed-out studio recordings that would definitely be considered "pop". "Goes Around Comes Around", if you added a full band and some slick backing vocals, would be bang-on pub rock. "Twist and Pout" isn't far from the lo-fi Buddy Holly approach that I figured would be present somewhere on this release. I know: you've gotta be really lo-fi to be a lo-fi Buddy Holly!
If your reaction to me reviewing Poppy Robbie is "Now that's a name I've not heard in a long time", you may be interested to know that the complete Koopas discography is also available from Poppy Robbie's Bandcamp. And while you're renewing old memories of the pop-punk of yore, why not also check out what Robbie is up to these days? Six bucks gets you digital versions of The Complete Koopas (In Reverse) and The Troubled Times of Samuel Heck. Ten bucks gets you both on cdr. The first person who asks me "What's a cdr?" is getting whacked with my cane.