Bands change, fortunately, and so does the music they make. But that implies opinions must change, too. After describing MXPX as a pale Green Day imitation to the bass tech for MXPX's front man Mike Herrera on this summer's Warped Tour, a moment later, we were introduced to Herrera. Oops! The fact that he was a terrific, genuine kind of guy who grew up on similar punk music (Social Distortion, Descendents) as we did is unimportant. G2B2 (good guy, bad band) abounds in music. What's important was onstage the next day, where it was clear that Green Day is not the only punk-pop act to improve with age. MXPX's Side One Dummy debut, Panic, dispatches with the gloss that clogged 2003's major-label release, sounding grittier and closer to the pavement. Overall, it's the same ebullient, hook-driven Cali punk that's launched a thousand careers, but in a dozen years, these guys've honed their playing and writing chops enough to emerge as a mature, much more talented act than when they started. The lesson: Don't judge a band entirely on its back catalogue. -- Chris Parker
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