Friday, May 4, 2012

Pennywise gives it their "All or Nothing"

I became a fan of Pennywise around 2008, I believe. I always heard about them but never really gave them a listen until then. I heard their latest album, REASON TO BELIEVE, and immediately I fell in love with them.

And that wasn't even their best album. I quickly bought every album they had on iTunes after that and they became one of my favorite bands. They're always playing on my iPod now, along with NOFX (who I also just discovered a few years ago--yes, I'm always late to the party on these things, but better late than never!).

I was crushed when I learned the lead singer left the band. After watching the documentary, THE OTHER F-WORD, it seemed like he was burned out and wanted to spend more time with his family. I could respect and appreciate that.

When I heard that they found a new lead singer and they were going to come out with a new album, I had my doubts. I sampled the album when it was free on KROQ for a week or so, but I didn't give it a fair listen. Immediately I thought, "Man, it's just not Pennywise without Jim." The songs were good, don't get me wrong, but I just couldn't get into it.

Replacing lead singers is one of the toughest things bands have to do. Very, very tricky to pull off, but there have been successful bands who were able to pull it off. I just listened to the new Alice in Chains not too long ago, and I have to admit it's a damned good album.

Yesterday, I found out that Jim (former lead singer of Pennywise) didn't leave the music scene after all. He started up a new band of his own. And that's when I realized that he probably was having other issues with the band, and it wasn't only about spending more time with his family.

So what's a band to do? Everybody else in Pennywise still wanted to move on as a band. Jim's happy doing his own thing. And while we'll always love the "Jim" days, there's no reason to hold a grudge against the new guy. Bands have to move on.

I decided to give them another shot. Not only that, but I bought the album. Because I love the band, I wanted to support them. I gave it another listen, and this time I really did keep an open mind.

I'm glad I did.

It's a really, really good album. The lead singer might sound a bit different, but the overall Pennywise sound is still there. I've listened to the album at least three times now, and it just keeps getting better for me.

I know some people out there won't be able to love the new Pennywise. There's nothing wrong with that. But still, give them a fair chance. You may surprise yourself.

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