Way back in 1977, as punk rock was breaking, southern California friends Tony Lombardo, Frank Navetta, and Bill Stevenson formed the Descendents, recruiting vocalist Milo Aukerman two years later. Much ensued since then, band break-ups & reunions, line-up changes, Milo Goes To College, and Navetta’s 2008 death. The band has largely revolved around Aukerman & Stevenson, and they reached back to unreleased 2002 recordings from that ‘classic line-up,’ of songs written during the group’s first four years. Combined with vocals recorded this year, they’ve put together some O.G. punk rock in 9th & Walnut.
How Spirit of ’77 original punk? There are 18 songs – totaling 26 minutes, averaging under a minute-and-a-half for each track. It’s got the original kick-ass punk such as opener “Sailor’s Choice”, and tons of kiss-off punk (“You Make Me Sick”, “Like the Way I Know”, “Yore Disgusting”), whose lyrics thankfully haven’t become cringe-worthy (or cancelable) over the decades. There’s also a bunch of catchy surf-punk (“Mohicans”, “Glad All Over”), which the band has long been skilled in. There’s even two re-recordings of two old songs, “Ride the Wild” and the fitting-the-times-once-again “It’s a Hectic World”.
In some ways, 9th & Walnut might be a bit of a cheat, recruiting the ‘classic line-up’ by dredging up recordings two decades old – of songs written four decades ago. But it’s a revival of how purely enjoyable punk rock had been, and can be.