Punk is better when it's simple and lo-fi. It's better in basements and tiny clubs. And it's better when it has something new to say, something genuine and heartfelt. I was tired of today's punk, so I stopped listening to it for awhile. I was just about to say that there is no good "new punk" out there, but then I got the urge to check out the new bands on Plan-It-X Records, remembering how much I loved listening to Operation: Cliff Clavin, Disarm, The Sissies and This Bike Is A Bike Bomb. I ordered a few CDs like Ghost Mice, Defiance, OH, Carrie Nations and Rosa, and as soon as I put them on I was in love with punk rock again. This is the real stuff. The music that changed my life so incredibly back when I was a clueless high schooler. So, now I'm listening to punk again, and to those who are feeling really jaded and disillusioned by Warped Tour/MTV punk, don't give up on punk completely. There is still some good stuff out there; you've just got to know where to look.
The Pretty Hot/Ghost Mice split CD is a good place to start. These songs (six from each band) are awesome. Both bands are from Bloomington, IN. Pretty Hot is rocking pop punk with a good mix of humor and seriousness. On the first track, Carlisle, they sing, "I don't ever want to grow up, but that doesn't mean I want to stop growing," which to me basically defines the spirit of this band: having fun & being youthful, but also being smart and questioning things and not being complacent and apathetic. Motionless makes a good point about crutches and things we lean on just to get us by: "without a person to hold them" they're "motionless." "Our legs will get stronger." Slingshot brings up some good questions about effective activism and blatant revenge and how sometimes the line between the two gets blurred.
Ghost Mice is Chris & Hannah from all sorts of past Plan-It-X bands. They are an acoustic folk-punk band, and one of the best. Apparently most of the shows they play are sans electricity, which is definitely punk rock. They say that these are some of their best songs, and I'd have to agree. The Good Life is probably my favorite in which they sing about how much better life would be as a bumble bee or a mountain goat: "I would never have to hear another telephone." In Letter Home, Chris thanks his parents for being supportive and helpful even though they don't completely agree with his lifestyle choices. They also include a cover of Fifteen's classic punk song, Petroleum Distillation, which is definitely worth hearing. This CD is $5 postage paid and was put out by Anti-Creative Records. You can write to them at: PO Box 1528, Upland CA 91785.
On another note, I recently found out that a guy I know has started a reforestation project down in Venezuala called Ciudad Teca. He is growing teak trees to help out the local economy and repair the damaged rainforested areas. I don't know a whole lot about it (teak trees are new to me), but you can check out the website to learn more. And if you have some extra cash, you can support the cause by making a donation.