I've been pretty hard on Mesa bands in general and Mesa punk bands in particular here in our weekly You Asked For It local CD review column. It's not that I have anything against Mesa (I live there) or punk bands (I was a big fan of them in my younger years) it's just that most of the ones I've heard suck. I've said before and I'll say again: It's hard to make good punk music when you live someplace as nice as suburban Phoenix. You try to come across as righteously angry, but end up sounding like a whiny, cliche-spouting little bitch, like the guys in The Video Nasties -- a band so original they can't even spell their name right in their MySpace URL because it's already taken.
Real punk music of the angry, alienated variety is made by guys like The Dead Boys' Stiv Bators, from the urban wasteland that is Youngstown, Ohio, a.k.a. "Murder City." When you listen to "Ain't It Fun," you know they mean every word of it and, for me, that authenticity makes the whole thing work. If you try it out here, the best you're going to do is have the cred of pre-Dracula Rocket From the Crypt, a San Diego band that chose their name as a rip-off of Rocket From the Tomb, the band that birthed The Dead Boys. That's cool and all, but it's not what punk should be in my book.
That said, (early) Jimmy Eat World and Authority Zero do give Mesa some punk credentials, so obviously the city has some scene. 80*D's Preserving Disorder furthers more than anything I've heard recently.
Beginning with an audio clip of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley addressing a press conference after the 1968 Democratic Convention riots, "Disorder" certainly has an angry, anti-authority, vibe but it doesn't come across as immature. In large part that's due to the well-crafted song, which veers from pure pop-punk bliss (this is a numbers band, after all) to screamo-style dual vocals, with the second part delivered in a guttural growl. That two-pronged attack works well throughout the record.
The second song, "K is for Kill," starts out with crashing cymbals and a surging riff before getting more melodic. By the refrain, it's outright catchy, a progression the band also manages on "Trashed Again?" Meanwhile, "Satellite," starts off soft before picking up some momentum with an enviable hair metal riff -- sort of the way Sum 41 (who suck, don't get me wrong) does, at their best. "Vandalized" finally showcases the bass, which, for my money, is the strongest single element in 80*D's sound. Bassist Stevo is a hell of a musician, and and a great line on almost every track on Preserving Disorder.
These guys have already been around for awhile, so not sure how much they'll grow from here, but I think 80*D has a lot to be proud of on this record -- if only because it managed to restore my faith in the Mesa music scene.