Pity adult rockers. They have to put on all kinds of weird shtiks to become media sensations. The members of Old Skull had it so much easier. They merely had to be themselves: noisy, energetic 8-and 10-year-olds.
Having gained experience as an opening act for Live Skull and Sonic Youth, the country’s youngest punk band has come out with this debut disc, which melds do-it-yourself rock with sheer chaos. So what if they can’t play a traditional guitar chord and they scream immature, gory lyrics like a pack of wild animals. This Madison, Wis., three-for-all rank awfully close to their adult mentors when it comes to the ability to create feedback and muddled lyrics. In “Skate or Die,” “Love Is Hell” and other pint-size songs, they shout typical punk lyrics, with a few phrases repeated again and again.
A couple of other songs show a political awareness that puts Old Skull light-years ahead of teenage thrash bands. In the protest song “Homeless,” lead singer-songwriter J.P. Toulon, 10, yells, “I look in their eyes and I see sadness!…I’m pissed off! I hate you, Ronald Reagan!” In “AIDS” he screams, “We don’t know that much about AIDS!” Score one for honesty. There is another important difference between Old Skull and older noise bands: The big guys maraud and scream because they believe in the concept of musical anarchy, of toying with elemental sounds. Old Skull doesn’t bother with concepts: These boys just want to have fun. This may explain why anyone too old for junior high school will find that the appeal of Old Skull’s music lasts about as long as a 10-year-old’s attention span. So, parents, the next time you hear your kids down in the basement making an electronic ruckus and start thinking about how good they’d sound in a 20,000-seat arena, don’t bother to alert the media. That kind of thing has already been done. (Restless)