Anna Minard claims to "know nothing about music." For this column, we force her to listen to random records by artists considered to be important by music nerds.


Is This Real?
(Park Avenue)

Well, it took four listens, but I think I like this. The Wipers are punk rockers—from Portland, it turns out. I didn't even know that was possible. At first, I couldn't tell the difference between this and every single second of punk I've ever heard, but then suddenly I could.

But punk, listen: We have to talk. What is with your vocal style? Why is it all the same like that? It's always halfway between faux-British accent (acknowledged, sometimes that accent is real) and the sound you make right before you barf. British yell-barfing—that's how I think of punk. You can even try it; I did. I made that comment to a friend, and then we practiced. Get a little bit British, then pretend to hurl—keep your voice kind of high and nasally, don't get too low—and voilà! Punk vocals. If it's not working, sound a little bit angrier at your parents and the state.

This is not a great idea, guys. I thought this was all about rebellion! Let's hope some other people have tried playing loud and fast and messy, but then they've decided to sing twangily, or they just happen to be a classically trained opera singer. Would you call that punk? Punk part deux, vocal redux—I want to hear it.

Back to the Wipers, who don't deserve the full brunt of my frustration. Is This Real?, their first album, was a good sunny-day listen. The second track, "Mystery," sounds like '90s pop, like you and all your friends are living Clueless, the Sequel. Then the title track just asks its question "Is this real?" over and over, and lead singer Greg Sage sounds like he's really wondering, like you might know the answer, like he really needs to know. This is some "David After Dentist" shit right here. Sage wails, "Sometimes I wish that you/Could break it to me/Is this real?" and "Then I realized/That all time stood still." The post-anesthesia 7-year-old of YouTube fame wonders: "Is this real life?" and "Why is this happening to me? Is this going to be forever?" I, for one, think a mash-up is in order. Or at least someone should write a punk song with lyrics composed of David's rambling—he even growls in the middle!

Some of the moodier songs annoy me instead of inspiring. "D-7" is weird, though I get its repetitive four-syllable chants ("Re-ject, re-ject," "De-fect, de-fect," "Not straight, not straight") stuck in my head pretty easily. I leave songs like "Potential Suicide" the fuck alone.

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Actually, I think the album kinda plods after the first half. The songs bleed together with mostly identical rhythms, and I lose my energy and patience. Hey, maybe it sounds better on dental drugs.

I give this a "don't touch your stitches" out of 10. recommended

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