E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals: The Matches 

California punk is a hell of a lot sunnier than anybody else's, especially when the bands swap out nihilism and noise for pop hooks and melody. A few bands have made a pile off this approach (Offspring and Green Day leap to mind), and the Matches may find some green in their pocket too, if E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals is any indication.

Straight outta Oaktown, this foursome has catchy down pat. I defy you to keep from singing along to the hoo-oooh chorus on "Chain Me Free," one of the many pop-punk pastries on the disc. Remarkably light on angst, even on the relatively somber track "Sick Little Suicide," this is not for people who, for example, keep their Sisters of Mercy collection close by at all times. (Nothing against SoM or their ilk).

With garage-band professionalism and nearly every track sung with verve and a smile, E. Von Dahl Killed the Locals is great fun, even for industrial-strength grumps like me. Put down the top and sing along. If you play it loud enough, long enough, passersby will start to sing along, especially on "Destination: Nowhere Near." Don't forget the sunscreen.

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