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Albums Of The Week: Descendents | 9th & Walnut

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You gotta start somewhere. And for the punk icons of Descendents, ground zero was a Long Beach garage at the titular intersection of their latest release 9th & Walnut.

That handle isn’t the only nostalgic element in play. The album actually features the first 17 songs the band ever wrote back in the late ’70s. The bulk of the tunes — some of which feature jangly new wave and power pop rather than the band’s signature speed-demon punk — were recorded when the foursome first reconvened in 2002, though a few more cuts and a suitably punchy cover of Dave Clark‘s Glad All Over were added last year during pandemic downtime. All in all, it adds up to a revealing snapshot of a young band still finding their feet and their sound. Plus, it delivers a satisfying end to a long-lost chapter in punk history. So fans will be glad all over too.

 


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “In 2002, Descendents’ original four-piece lineup — bassist Tony Lombardo, drummer Bill Stevenson, guitarist Frank Navetta (d. 2008), and vocalist Milo Aukerman — entered the studio to finally record the songs with which they first forged their genre-defining sound. The 18-track result, 9th & Walnut, was named for their Long Beach practice space back in the day. The album features the band’s earliest material written from 1977 through 1980.

“9th & Walnut is where our first practice room was, in Frank’s sister’s garage,” Stevenson recalls. “His brother and sister lived there, and The Pagan Babies, Frank’s band with his brothers, played there too. Some of these songs were written when Frank was only 14 years old.” When the band reconvened to record them, it was just like the earliest days: “We just fell right into our old mode. It was so natural.”

Also included are freshly recorded versions of the Milo Goes To College outtake Like the Way I Know, Descendents’ debut tracks Ride the Wild and It’s A Hectic World (heard here for the first time with vocals by Milo Auckerman), and the Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over — given the full Descendents treatment.”