Aye Nako – Unleash Yourself

I’ll never forget the feeling of hearing blink-182 for the first time. I was young, angsty, agressive, misunderstood. Pretty much everything pissed me off. I couldn’t figure out why my peers cared so goddamn much about cheerleading and Abercrombie and plaid shorts. I don’t remember anything about the moment other than the feeling; blink’s go-fuck-yourself attitude, quips about just the kinds of people I so loathed, and catchy riffs brought me salvation. At last! Somewhere I could fit in! Fuck the man and stuff! I felt so badass listening to them on my Walkman after school; I had entered a world of sonorous differentiation that no one could take away from me. A world where I could finally satisfy all of my aggression and self-deprecating tendencies. I felt empowered, part of something bigger. Something bigger that wanted to tear down that bigger something. That feeling never went away, and soon I was blasting blink in my car with all the windows down, driving way too fast around my suburban wasteland of a hometown, feeling high on pop punk.

Listening to Aye Nako is a little bit like that feeling, but they bring something new to the table. They take classic pop punk ideas and re-appropriate them into self-dubbed “queercore” and “homo-pop.” To me, they represent a budding (and incredibly important) sub-scene of punk, taking music traditionally played for and by white straight dudes and turning it into something anyone can and should participate in. It’s pop punk for the kids whom the originals of pop punk ostracized. When I put them on in my headphones, I’m transported into the world of post-PO’d twenty-somethings who still aren’t quite satisfied with what the world has to offer, but have found a way to express that dissatisfaction and they’re having a rollicking good time doing so. For proof, here’s a video of their drummer playing on a cake taker:

Also, their website. Super cool indie nerd goofy sparkles and rainbows. Aw yis.

Instead of dirty humor and lusty angst, Aye Nako errs on the saccharine side, juxtaposing their heartfelt youthfulness with lo-fi riffs and a gritty live sound. From “Molasses,” the second track:

“slow, like molasses, slow
but here you are, patience in tow
can’t even clutch the meaning
if you could look from where I’m seeing
comb your fingers through your hair
it’s not neighbourly to stare”

This song is rife with pop-punk content, coming across a lot like a Dinosaur Jr. tune (which is awesome, because Dinosaur Jr. rules), but the subject matter departs from your typical pop-punk struggles, grappling instead with [as I understand it] the difficulties of situating one’s sexual identity in a world that sets gender boundaries so inappropriately rigid. It’s got the same driving beat and air-guitar worthy riffs as any other pop-punk band, yes, but it branches out to a whole new population of kids who may have previously been unable to identify with pop-punk music.

I say that if you’re a fan of redefining genres, you should go download Aye Nako’s Unleash Yourself RIGHT NOW! I mean come on there’s butts on the cover who doesn’t like butts?

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