There are more than enough pop punk anthems about booze and pills, lonely nights and class-war politics. But how many rock songs out there can make you laugh?
If you listen exclusively to Chase and the Barons, your answer should be “all of them.” The young dance-rock foursome from Pittsburgh – consisting of singer Chase Barron, guitarist Michael Saunders, drummer Jake Stretch and bassist Jacob Rieger – are known for coming up with songs as offbeat and loud as their eclectic collection of ties and button-downs.
Theirs is a sound that suggests Weezer shacking up with R.E.M., a melodic mix of fuzzy guitars, swanky bass and brassy saxophone hooks. Their debut LP, “Live Wire Bed Fire,” is 13 tracks of winking sarcasm and rock fanboy treatises.
Drop in anywhere and you’ll find Barron and company dissecting the trials and tropes of everyday life. “I Will Follow You Into The Park” (which only vaguely sounds like a similarly-named Death Cab for Cutie song) nails the hopeless isolation of staring at pics of your ex in hopes they’ll return your calls. And the monotony of the work week has never sounded as upbeat as it does on “A Day Off/Treehouse.” “The finish line we’re chasin’ keeps on racin’ away” Barron sighs. Nine-to-fivers everywhere will certainly agree. As you’ve probably guessed by now, turning daily battles with boredom into entertaining jazz romps is something Chase and the Barons have down pat. They make the drag of fighting with traffic sound fun on “Backseat,” where Barron drops this priceless line: “I drive an automatic SUV/All the soccer moms can roll with me.”
Ironically, “Meditation Song” is one of the more frantic takes from the album, with Stretch, Rieger and Saunders delivering a jittery blues blitz to segue into the island groove of “Sunglasses.”
Chase and friends wait until the last track to get a little angry, yelling about the joys of getting fired on “We Lost Our Jobs.” “I never got a damn vacation/I never got to sleep in late” Barron gripes, proving you don’t need bombs and anarchy to sell the pop punk spirit.
The guys are hometown heroes in Panther Country, where they’ve steadily climbed the local rock radio charts and emerged victorious at Battle of the Bands. “Live Wire Bed Fire” furthers their status as a band that’s not afraid to get weird.