Saturday, July 06, 2024

The Ergs! - dorkrockcorkrod (20th Anniversary Remix)

Wow! The Ergs!' dorkrockcorkrod, one of the greatest pop-punk albums ever made, is now twenty years old! To celebrate this anniversary, the Ergs! just released a double LP re-issue package on Don Giovanni Records. This 20th anniversary edition of dorkrockcorkrod, which included the original album remastered by Justin Perkins, a remix by Steve Albini overseen by Mike Yannich, and an Ergs! oral history compiled by Mike Faloon, quickly sold out. If you snoozed, you lost. However, the Albini remix is available from all the major digital platforms and is well worth checking out if you love The Ergs! or pop-punk in general. 
To get myself in the correct head space for this review, I vowed not to listen to any teaser tracks or even listen to The Ergs! at all over the last few months. I wanted to hear dorkrockcorkrod with somewhat fresh ears. I wanted to discover if 53-year-old me would love this album the way 33-year-old-me did. I wanted to make sure I still thought this was a great record and not something best left in the early 2000s dustbin of history along side flip phones, reality tv, Mozilla Firefox, and Pepsi Blue. I wanted to make sure I still found The Ergs! to be worthy of a spot on my New Jersey musical Mount Rushmore next to Springsteen, The Shirelles, and Dramarama. I suppose the first sentence of this review spoils the suspense. Having gotten reacquainted with dorkrockcorkrod, I'm pretty blown away by how well it holds up. I can totally understand why this was one of my favorite bands of the 2000s — perhaps even my most favorite band of the 20000s. It would have been hard for me twenty years ago to separate my notion of what The Ergs! were based on meeting them and seeing them play from my notion of what they were based purely on their music. I've wondered: Did me relating to these guys as kindred spirit music nerds cause me to overvalue their actual records? Thankfully, I can answer that in the negative. Everything that made me love this band is right there for the listening on dokrockcorkrod: the encyclopedic knowledge of popular music, the infusion of '80s hardcore and indie rock influences into the pop-punk style, the devastating & fully authentic "brokenhearted love songs," the catchiest melodies you could ever hope to hear, the unpretentious yet undeniable musical chops, and that perfect mixture of dorky humor and lovelorn vulnerability. You just won't hear a better pop-punk album ever. At the time of this album's release, The Ergs! had already released two demos, a 7", and a CD EP. They were far from novices. But this was the album where everything finally came together —where all that talent and all those silly ideas blossomed into something truly great. 

Anyone who loved dorkrockcorkrod the first time around will get a kick out of hearing these recordings as mixed by the great Steve Albini. The remix sounds absolutely amazing. And if you weren't around when this album first came out or for whatever reason just never got into The Ergs!, here's your chance to discover one of the truly definitive albums of modern-day pop-punk — and likely THE definitive album of the "dork rock" genre. The Ergs! have been prolific enough to justify not one but two compilations of their non-album material, so my list of their best songs would be a lengthy one. But a whole bunch of songs off of dorkrockcorkrod would make that list. In particular, "Pray for Rain," "Most Violent Rap Group," "Saturday Night Crap-O-Rama," "Vampire Party," "A Very Pretty Song For A Very Special Young Lady, Part 2," and "Everything Falls Apart (And More)" are locks for any Ergs! best-of playlist. Unless I concede that I've had zero emotional and intellectual progression in the past 20 years, I have to conclude that dorkrockcorkrod has withstood the test of time in a major way. Of course I've been known to get carried away in touting a band, and surely I'd find my own hyperbole cringe-worthy if I re-read my original review. But you know what? I wasn't wrong! I'll be sure to re-evaluate this album again in ten years when it's reissued on brain-implantable computer chip. 

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