I've been listening to the Bouncing Souls since I saw them in a converted restaurant in Santa Cruz in the mid-90's. Always a great sing-along band with just the right combination of feel-good anthems and silly punk songs. When I heard that their 20th Anniversary 7" series came out, I jumped on that bandwagon with a quickness.
"Gasoline" opens the series with a dramatic start. Since '96, their musicianship has gotten phenomenal, comparatively. Greg, the singer, wasn't always known for being in tune. Now, he stage dives less and sings in tune more. That's a fair trade, in my book. Despite this improvement in musical talent, their hearts haven't shrunk a bit. They still lay it all out there and keep it positive. Some excellent layering adds a building feel to this song which is only really let down by a few too many repeats of the chorus line "tell me that I'm free, give me some gasoline."
The A-side continues the anthemic punk songs with a palm muted and oh oh oh sing along song aptly titled "We All Sing Along." It's both punker (palm muting) and less punk (guitar solo) than the opener. I spent about half the song trying to figure out where I had heard one of the riffs. It turns out they took a bit of a hint from Billy Idol's "Dancing With Myself." Not a bad song to cop a riff from if you're trying to be catchy.
Unfortunately, The Souls didn't save a lot for the B-side of Volume 1. "Airport Security" is a little country with some steel guitar-like bends. It's as close as the boys get to a ballad I suppose, but it feels too slow and is definitely too cheesy.
My copy has a pressing error that left me waiting for the final track for a bit. But I got smart and picked up the needle and "A Life Less Ordinary" came to life. I probably should have skipped this acoustic jam. About the only thing that stood out was an interesting vocal fade out/echo on the line "We decide to stop dying and liiiiiiiiiiiiiive" where the last word was repeated quieter and quieter. The rest feels like the band trying to channel 90's mainstream high school party girl heart melting jam "More Than Words" by Extreme. Ugh.
The first two songs are solid, though.
A2: We All Sing Along
B1: Airport Security
B2: A Life Less Ordinary