July 15, 2006

The Leftovers

I had a soft spot in my heart for The Leftovers from the start because they're from Portland, Maine; I lived up in their neck of the woods for a couple of years in the 80s. Portland is a little oceanside gem that's one of the few affordable cities left in New England. Summer evenings in Portland are reminiscent of San Francisco - they're chilly and, if you're lucky, you can watch the fog roll in over Casco Bay and as far out as Big Sound studios. The city features an array of good ethnic restaurants, a breathtaking Bay, and a downtown area that must have been revamped sometime in the 90s and which features hip record and tattoo shops and a park that, on my last visit anyway, was teeming with punk rockers and other social misifts. Portland is the last great secret of the East Coast.

I can't recall a great band ever having come from Portland - or anywhere else in Maine - but now the Black Fly State can claim the Leftovers, not only the best band from Maine, but quite probably the best band in underground melodic rock music right now.

Check out their MySpace page if you don't believe me (though skip "Crazy" - the only sub-par track I've heard from the band). I'll wait for you.

Okay, see what I mean? I'd say "Camel" is about the best song I've heard in the past six months, but that would slight "Adding Up" which so perfectly brings the hooks, the rock, the passion and the sense of immediacy that is the hallmark of the best aggressive rock. Holy crap, this band is great.

In spite of a fairly diverse set of influences they're considered to be part of the "pop-punk" genre (a genre in desperate need of a more appropriate name, and not "buzz pop" either, as some feebs have been calling it). To these ears they're a bit more in tune with balls-to-the-wall rock than most of their contemporaries but I can sort of see the connection; the Leftovers not only rock your socks off - they actually know how to write a song, too.

The Leftovers are likely going to do very well for themselves, although I imagine it will be under another name. A quick Google search for "leftovers rock" turns up no less than three bands with the same name on the first page alone. I'm surprised they haven't gotten a cease and desist letter yet, but it's only a matter of time.

Still, this band kicks ass, a notion less and less applicable to most of the alleged punk rock being mass produced these days. Eat up and enjoy - Rally Records will set you up nicely.

Posted by benweasel at 06:52 AM

I never really understood the pop punk name myself. Always made me think of Michael Jackson with a mohawk. Something else I don't get is why does the number 27 show up in so many punk songs?

Posted by: Jason at July 15, 2006 07:55 AM

I've always hated the stigma the words pop-punk bring. In fact, I've been writing about music for awhile now and refuse to refer to any music I listen to as such (Your works included; see the URL). When I think of "pop", I think of American Idol, MTV, corporate radio and the lot. Should Screeching Weasel, The Queers, or (dare I say it) The Ramones be included in the same or related genre as those. In Punk is a Four Letter Word you suggest flip-flopping the two words(punk-pop). This seems a little better, but I think we should all conciously say fuck it and call it what it really is, punk rock. Sure there are heavier examples of punk out there, but how does that make anything pop?
That aside, Ben, your posts are always entertaining. Thanks for breaking up the monotony.
Dorian Wolak

Posted by: Dorian Wolak at July 15, 2006 08:14 AM

Wow, these guys are pretty good. Thanks for posting this. I don't mind the "pop-punk" label so much--normal punk is pretty much just chord bashing and yelling--but bands like Fallout Boy aren't pop-punk, they're just pop. Bad pop. Fans of bands in that genre who are actually good should reclaim it and not let Myspace fanboys molest it beyond all recognition.

Posted by: Dave at July 15, 2006 12:07 PM

I'm from Westbrook, Maine and I've loved The Leftovers since the first time I saw them back in '03, and I have always thought they had a chance to make it somewhere someday.

One other thing, I have to disagree with you Ben. I personally think Crazy is a great song. Although you are right, Camel and Adding Up are amazing.

Posted by: Blake at July 15, 2006 01:39 PM

This blog and this comments are very usefull for people like me that live in southamerica.
Down here is very dificult to find info about punk bands. But at the same time im tired of reading about if that's pop-punk? are you really a punk ?
or if that band is selling out or not.
When american bands play here in Chile (green day , agnostic front , lagwagon etc) everybody goes to the shows no matter what kind of music they play.
We go to the shows to listen and watch american history and dream of having a band and tour the world and play in a warped tour or something like that. The only thing you need is real unity and respect.Enjoy every band you can see in the states because the rest of the world specially us form southamerica just dream to see live some shows of bands that play a couple of times a year in your city.

Posted by: Andres at July 15, 2006 02:16 PM

The Leftovers are my favorite band, without a doubt. I've been seeing them for a couple years now, and I've had them a play a couple shows and I've even gotten to have my band play with them before. They're not only awesome musicians, but they are also the nicest guys you'll ever meet.

I saw them last night at the Party Tonight CD release party-awesome show. I hope they get a great a response in England when they head over there, because they totally deserve it.

Everybody should give Party Tonight a listen, too. It's inexpensive, which is how music should be, and it's very awesome, also how music should be. So there you have it: The Leftovers are how music should be.

Posted by: Chris Bovio at July 15, 2006 02:45 PM

Hey, they're pretty good. I like thier Cheap Trick-ish background logo.

Posted by: Amy at July 15, 2006 04:49 PM

It should be mentioned that Cheapskate Records was the most recent label to release cd by these kids...which I also believe is a more recent release than their 7" as well.


Posted by: Adam at July 16, 2006 10:33 AM

Thanks for the heads-up on the Leftovers...nice. With a lot of what folks classify punk rolling up into one big mass-marketed ball, it's nice to see some fellow New Englanders trying to break the mold. They look and sound the part.

I'm not even going to address the entire "pop punk" or "punk pop" issue. I like it all. It's all punk rock. I was among those who dismissed Green Day when they went major, only I recently rediscovered what I missed out on in my pig-headedness. I like fast music, loud music, melodic music, whatever...as long as it has attitude and you can either tap a toe or pump a fist, I'm set. Solid lyrics matter too.

And to address the self-promoting dude who added like nine comments above...Rancid is still punk. Yeah, they're famous. Yeah, they make money. There's nothing punk about being a poor nobody. Rancid's records still rock my face. I don't pay too close attention any more to what they're saying, but their albums still blast.

Posted by: Andrew at July 16, 2006 05:38 PM

I didn't know exactly where to post this but i just wanted to say something about the ben weasel solo album. I sort of got out of punk rock for a awhile, but i was recently shopping for a cd looking threw the same cookie cutter cd selection than never seems to get any better, and came across the weasel solo album. Wow! i sort of expected it to be basically a screeching weasel album, and for obvious reasons has those moments, but its different. I really think that it is a good album. The album is well written. I had no idea that a weasel solo album even existed, but i am glad i do now. Props to you Mr. Weasel

Posted by: Josh at July 17, 2006 01:39 AM

Excellent thanks the tip (trawling myspace can be painful at times). They're playing London this Saturday so hopefully i'll get a chance to see them live.

Posted by: Giles at July 17, 2006 08:58 AM

Well they're playing in my vicinity later this month, so I'll make certain to go down, support them & check them out live...

Posted by: Timbomb at July 17, 2006 12:09 PM

Hey Ben, If you start a MySpace I'll put you in my Top 8!

Posted by: Mike at July 17, 2006 12:53 PM

Well, I have just listened to the Leftovers for the first time. I will say that they are much better than two other bands you drooled over on here: Alkaline Trio and All American Rejects.

I hope that this post was okay, and that I didn't lose my library card to the Ben Weasel Message Board or anything.

Posted by: David at July 17, 2006 07:19 PM

I played "Camel" on my first-ever podcast. As soon as I heard it, I knew these kids were going places. The new CD confirms that, but I've also been lucky enough to see them live several times and the records only begin to tell the story. They're great guys too.

Posted by: Jim Testa at July 18, 2006 04:00 PM