By Lily Hoveke
The Scummies, hailing from the western Illinois suburbs, released their newest EP “Welcome 2 Club Scum” earlier last month. Before listening to the EP, the album cover really caught my attention. There’s a bright purple border around the words in a yellow-colored font, with a neon green character (resembling Jim Carey in The Mask) right above a photo of the band. It’s definitely very DIY and even nostalgic since the animation and color scheme reminds me a lot of some computer games from the early 2000s. Before listening, I will mention that I’m excited to hear this, considering that Illinois bands over the past few years have been consistently putting out some good material, especially within the world of punk music.
“Dirty Grind” opens the EP, and the guitars on this track grab the listener’s attention immediately. There are high – almost to the point of being shrill at some point – notes being played interwoven within anti-capitalist lyrics. In a world where everyone is following the paths that society has carved out for them, this song reflects the desire to stray away from that and do something artistic and creative instead. The song has a unique sound, and to me, embodies the idea that punk music can be whatever you want it to be. This track takes punk influences and beliefs and combines them in a unique and creative way.
Next comes “Happy Song,” which, despite the title, is not a happy song. The vocalist’s tone perfectly conveys the miserable feeling of being forced to socialize with people you don’t want to be dealing with. Instrumentally, this song is much more consistent than “Dirty Grind” but doesn’t sound stale or overdone. I really enjoyed this one because of the sarcasm dripping off every word in it. The sound conveys that feeling of “I’d rather be doing literally anything else than this” that the lyrics also reflect, and I think every element of this goes together really well.
“Scummie Me” is the third track, and this was by far my favorite one instrumentally. While singing, the vocalist switches between speaking the lyrics and singing them during the chorus. During breaks in vocals, there are tempo changes and a guitar that builds, giving the element of suspense and anticipation for what comes next.
“IDK” closes out the EP, and this one has quite a bit of garage rock influence within its sound. Lyrically, this is another track that reflects the title, where it appears that the band kind of just wrote whatever and slapped it into a song. I couldn’t hear much of a theme both lyrically and sonically, but I found the execution of this to be attention-grabbing. You can tell that effort was put in, and it sounds pretty fun, so I think it worked really well in their favor.
Overall, this EP was genuinely an interesting listen. I’m not exaggerating when I say it is nothing like I’ve ever listened to before. This is the band’s first non-single release, and for doing this for the first time, it wasn’t bad. I’d describe the sound as experimental punk and rock, since it managed to both follow and also break out of these genre conventions. My only criticism of it was that at times it felt a little all over the place, but I couldn’t tell if that was intentional or not. Since they are a newer band, I know that they will probably need more time to really hone in and define their sound, so this isn’t a complete criticism. I also acknowledge that it is so easy to get caught up in making music that fits within a genre label so much that it begins to sound like everyone else, so major props to The Scummies for going outside of those labels and making the music they want to make. I see a lot of potential here, and I’m excited to hear what comes out in the future. Given the various sound and appeal to different audiences, this will be a welcome addition to the midwest punk scene, and I hope to see this band booked on more shows soon!