Berkeley's On Fire

Berkeley's On Fire

SWMRS’ CV includes a 20-minute soundtrack to a Saint Laurent runway show in Paris and a goal celebration theme for two-time MLS title winners the San Jose Earthquakes; it’s clear the Oakland punk-pop band (featuring drummer Joey Armstrong, son of Billie Joe) appeals to a wide constituency—fashionistas and soccer supporters included. For their second album, Berkeley’s On Fire, the quartet opens the floodgates of sound. Tracks like “Trashbag Baby,” “Too Much Coffee,” and “Lose Lose Lose” ring with cool ’80s post-punk and new wave. “April in Houston” and “Hellboy” show glimmers of their raucous punk-pop past. And while the band members are still in their early twenties, they address tough topics like gentrification and media distortion. The title track references the 2017 Berkeley protests following a gathering of white nationalists: “Too many motherfuckers confusing this freedom of speech with swastikas, like Milo Yiannopoulos.”

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