Local Wire

Kepi Ghoulie

Kepi Ghoulie's bottomless servings of sugary sweet musical candy make him the ultimate pop-punk confectioner. Though he hails from Sacramento, California — hours north of pop-punk's ground zero — he shares a kinship with such SoCal progenitors as Descendents, Redd Kross, and The Vandals. He got his start in the mid-'80s, fronting longstanding horror-inflected punk-pop act Groovie Ghoulies until their 2007 break-up (after his divorce from guitarist Roach Ghoulie). Since their dissolution, Kepi's vacillated between solo and electric/band performances (his local show's one of the latter). The music's followed suit with jangly acoustic strumming and effervescent folk-punk displacing some of the boisterous hook-lined punk. Much of the allure lies in Kepi's melodic gift, which channels the straightforward simplicity of the Ramones and Buddy Holly over lyrics brimming with the same artless innocence and enthusiasm. Whether he's singing about two X chromosomes behaving like a "Brain Scrambling Device" or heralding rock 'n' roll's rainbow of "Freaks on Parade," Kepi's youthful glee infuses the songs with enough effortless charm and geeky wit to transcend their modest means. Though there's a certain banality to the songs, they're so lightweight and fly by with such alacrity, like salted cashews, you can easily down them by the handful.