Sound — 8
Forget the idea that you need to buy a concert ticket to capture the energy, sweat, and chaos of a band. Be Your Own Pet has almost pulled off the unthinkable -- bottling the live experience and laying it out in 15 CD tracks. On its self-title record, BYOP is proving that punk is still alive and well, and it just so happens to be coming out of the country music oasis of Nashville, Tenn. BYOP offers a refreshing return to the punk sound that reigned before the term pop-punk was created. The band, featuring vocalist Jemina Pearl (one fiery gal), guitarist Jonas Stein, bassist Nathan Vasquez, and drummer Jamin Orrall, stays true to the form with each track averaging a little over two entertaining minutes. With its debut on Sonic Youth legend Thurston Moore's Ecstatic Peace/Universal label, the band proves that so-called pop-punk rockers aren't really that punk after all. From the first track, Thresher's Flail, the band wisely builds upon a simple beat and guitar riff to take the listener on a very quick turn a more feverish side of the band. By the end of the song, it features chaotic strumming, accelerating tempo, and a vocalist whose voice reflects her bandmates' increasing volume -- and don't be surprised if you miss the opening for the second track. Now that's a transition. In the track Bunk Trunk Skunk, vocalist Pearl shows exactly why she deserves to be the frontwoman of a punk band. She growls and screams so passionately that you can almost feel the spittle coming from her mouth. This may not be every singer's goal, but she should stand proud that she's able to paint such a vivid picture in just one song. Although she uses the trademark punker's yell in most of the songs, when Pearl does sing she brings to mind Gwen Stefani. Given that both singers have platinum blonde locks and heavy vocal vibrato, it's likely that this comparison is an ever-returning blessing and/or curse for the band. Stein's guitar work may not be necessarily groundbreaking in that he often uses one guitar line throughout most of a song, but every now and then he does surprise us with a riff that comes out of leftfield. When Stein suddenly slows down midway through the song and tweaks the underlying riff, it ultimately makes the song a more interesting listen. Not every song gets it right, however. The song Wildcat! tends to be a bit tiresome, with Stein using one repeating riff that sounds a bit like a siren for pretty much the entire song. Because each song the record is short and sweet, there wasn't much place else to go with the riff given the time limitations. Still, given the short length of Wildcat, it still tends to be a nuisance rather quickly.
Lyrics — 6
Let's be fair. If a punk band write lyrics that probe too deeply in your soul, it might be worrisome. There's something refreshing about the simplicity of BYOP's lyrics, and the phrasing of each line reflects the underlying music really well. Quirky is the word that comes to mind when listening to a song like the lyrics state, Wanna get a cat, my boyfriend wants a dog; we got into a fight, I drowned him in the bog. It's just odd enough that people will make this a sure-fire sing-along. While plenty of the lyrics are amusing, it's not really what makes the band stand out. It's not that they are terrible lyrics, it's just that the band's energy and not their lyrics make them memorable.
Overall Impression — 8
How the world will embrace BYOP remains to be seen. Although they are rapidly gaining a following, landing a gig at Coachella and releasing popular CDs in the UK, the band's raw sound may be a little too raw for the pop-punk-heavy radio. That being said, there are plenty of unique moments on the self-titled CD that deserve to be heard. October, First Account strays far from being a traditional punk tune, with its lower tempo and radio-friendly producing, and the result is ultimately a payoff. In the song's breakdown, an unexpected, groovy bass line is highlighted. Likewise, Love You Shot Gun is an angry love song that musically keeps you guessing. With each song being so short in length, it's necessary for the band to make an instant impression. Some of the songs miss the mark completely and never get passed your run-of-the-mill chord progression and average lyrics. However, when the band does get it right, it is a dynamic, exciting, and above all, talented band. To leave listeners feeling like they've just been to a loud, intimate, and chaotic little club in the city is truly a talent. And if you're ready for the chance to experience a BYOB stage show -- well, just pop in the CD and push play.