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Riddlin' Kids – Hurry Up and Wait

Best Punk Hybrid Album (punk-pop, punk-a-billy etc)

The following was originally published in our Melody Makers section. 

Review By Keavin Wiggins
Let’s start with the premise that the genre of “pop-punk” is really pretty limiting in what a band can do. With most pop-punk groups the formula becomes redundant after a few songs, forget about after a few albums. That being the rule, Riddlin’ Kids are one of the few groups that prove to be the exception. Like the band Unwritten Law, the Riddlin’ Kids go a long away towards providing this much derided genre of music with some credibility. Punk purist will argue that the punk designation in pop-punk is not justified but really upon closer examination a group like Riddlin’ Kids sound like the pop evolution of the classic work of the Ramones. Is there really much difference between Riddlin’ Kids’ “I Feel Fine” and the Ramones “The KKK Took My Girl Away”? Ok I hear the flaming starting right about now, but take a listen to the two tracks and you will hear what I am talking about. 

Having said that, a more appropriate label for this kind of music might be guitar driven angst-infused power-pop; a combination that has proven irresistible to radio programmers and young music fans. Blink-182 and even Lit have tried to tap into this but they focused far too much on the pop and not enough on the guitar driven elements. The Riddlin’ Kids do it right and unlike other bands in the pop-punk arena they have a strong vocalist that doesn’t sound like he’s trying to be Billy Joe from Green Day (who sounds like he needs to blow his nose). No, Clint Baker can actually sing and isn’t afraid to show his talent. The songs are strong in melody and power, maybe not powerful enough for the average punk or metal fan but it’s not the wimp rock we have come to expect from groups like Blink-182. They actually have a little of an 80’s powerpop undercurrent to their style which is evident in a song like “See The Light”, a surefire hit that really show us that the Riddlin’ Kids have that rare and elusive talent that so many bands lack, strong songwriting skills. Although, some of the songs sound a little too similar to each other, when they explore different directions it works well. As for the angst part else would you expect from a group called “Riddlin’ Kids”? 

The story of how the Riddlin’ Kids got from being a local Austin band, working at a Pizza parlor when not honing their craft to their signing to a major label is the stuff that rock n roll legends are made of. Since half the battle of getting noticed is to actually get people to listen to the music, the band was smart enough to combine the advantages of their day gig and their quest for music stardom by bribing club owners with Pizzas to get them to listen to their demos. The band was earnest in their attempt to get noticed, they managed to get the local Austin alternative rock station KROX to spin their songs, even though they didn’t have a record deal, something that is almost unheard of in the radio business. With that exposure and gigging around town the band caught the attention of the panelist at the Austin Music Awards who named them “Best Alt/Rock Punk Band” in 2000. All of this combined with a few locals performances on The Warped Tour in 1999 and 2001 as well as opening slots for bands like New Found Glory, Fenix TX and the Ataris it was only a matter of time before a label came along with a record deal. Columbia Records knew a potential hit band when they heard it and beat other labels to the punch by giving the Riddlin’ Kids their chance at the big time. 

They put their best face forward with their Columbia debut “Hurry Up and Wait” making this one of the strongest debuts from that label in a while. The whole punk-pop thing may have been a bit overplayed at this point and has many detractors but The Riddlin’ Kids bring something special to the much maligned genre. Now we have to wait and see if Columbia can flex their musical muscle by making these guys stars and carrying the pop-punk genre to it’s next logical level.  Even if that doesn’t happen, those who happen to add “Hurry Up and Wait” to their CD collections will have struck gold. But looking out on the shallowness of the modern rock mainstream landscape I can’t help but hope that The Riddlin’ Kids get the exposure they deserve because quite simply unlike most of today’s best selling “rock” bands, these guys actually deliver the goods! 

CD Info 

Riddlin’ Kids – Hurry Up and Wait
Label:Aware / Columbia Records
Release Date: Aug 6, 2002
Here We Go Again
See The Light
I Feel Fine
Nowhere to Run
Follow Through
Pick Up The Pieces
Can’t Think
Wasted Away
It’s The End of the World As We Know It
Listen to samples and Purchase this CD online

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