Punk purists, or even punk not-so-purists may not be keen on Countless Thousands, a bubble gum punk group from Los Angeles. In point of fact, these pseudo-punks sound more like if every single member of They Might Be Giants came down with a bit of the old brain damage, then copied everything the Foo Fighters ever shat out their b-side catalog. They’re not bad, per se, this overtly heartwarming outfit, they’re just not punk.
Countless Thousands are so not bad, in fact that the Kickstarter campaign this year to fund their debut album, You’re Goddamn Right, made three times its goal in a very short period of time. You see, distinguished members of the punk community in Blighty, there is a phenomenon in the US called “pop punk”, and it’s quite popular (hence the pop), but despite the label no one really regards it as punk anymore. It is separated from the Bad Brains, the Fugazi and the Dead Kennedys what we love so dear in the true US punk scene. The only thing that bands like Countless Thousands have in common with these American punk legends is a simple two-chord guitar progression and rolling drum interludes. This music has a place, and it’s in a sort of sickly-sweet bubble that we cannot break. To quote Russell Brand, “people like it”.
To make things even more pop-tastic, the first single off Countless Thousands’s well-funded debut, “Webster’s Dictionary Defines Marriage As” is even more sickly sweet than the average pop punk, and the video borders on childish, or at least puerile. It matches the song, however, so at least there’s no confusion. With no sense of irony, “Webster’s…” lists all the different way love and marriage are awesome and how precious finding the perfect partner is. Sid and Nancy are rolling in their graves as this is being written, rest assured. The video is a cute idea to go along with that, depicting a white background with a line through the center, and on either side are complimentary things. So goes, in Sesame Street-like blatancy, the old addage, “you’re the blank to my blank.” “You’re the jam to my toast, the salsa to my chips, the shot glass to my whiskey, the ham to my pineapple (that one’s only recognizable to Americans)”, the video seems to say. At the end it’s just shots of couples flopping all over the line, just in case the audience was wondering if the video could be any more sappy. It can and it did.
Again, musically Countless Thousands are just fine. Lead singer “Danger” Van Gorder has a pitch-perfect, albeit pop-infused voice, and the rest of the band is proficient and clean, as is the production. But punk they most certainly ain’t. They also have a great sense of humor, with some of their other videos like “Gang Fight” being a little more tongue-in-cheek. They are, however, just too bloody happy for punk. Singer “Danger” even calls himself “show choir reject who was never cool enough for punk rock”. He’s got that right. So, if you’re an aging punk who wants age-appropriate two-chord progressions for your kids or just like happy-go-lucky pop punk, you may join the Countless Thousands who like Countless Thousands. If you’re a punk purist who thinks comparing songs about marriage to Fugazi is sacreligde, however, skipping this one would be heavily advised. You’re Goddamn Right” was released in late October of this year and can be found on Countless Thousands’s Bandcamp page.