Looking for a band that carries a beach vibe with heavy punk influences? A Beach Boys meet the Ramones kind of sound? Well, look no further. Hailing from Oakland, California, SWMRS was founded in 2004 by Joey Armstrong and brothers, Cole and Max Becker. Travis Neumann was added in 2009 to complete the quartet that is best known as Emily’s Army. Their debut album, “Don’t Be A Dick,” was released in 2011 followed by “Lost at Seventeen” two years later. The band released the EP, “Swim,” in 2014 before Neumann decided to call it quits. His position was later filled by Sebastian Mueller who contributed to the September 8 release of the EP, “Miley / Uncool,” which was the first material published under the name SWMRS (pronounced “swimmers”).
The name Emily’s Army may sound familiar for a few reasons. First of all, Billie Joe Armstrong, Green Day frontman and Joey Armstrong’s dad, produced the band’s first two studio albums. It never hurts to have a professional, internationally-known rock star to help an up and coming band. Emily’s Army was also featured on Warped Tour in 2012 and 2013. The following year saw change and growth in the production and performance of the young band. Smoother vocals and cleaner sounds replaced the more raw punk energy the band traditionally carried when they dropped their 2014 EP, “Swim.” In other words, Emily’s Army began to favor a “Beach Pop” genre. Not even a year later, the band performed for the last time under the name Emily’s Army during Australia’s Soundwave Festival.
With every ending there is a beginning. Emily’s Army didn’t end in a literal sense. It would be more accurate to say they evolved. This personal and musical evolution is said to be the reason why guitarist Travis Neumann left the band. The departure created a ripple effect of even more change. Max Becker gave up four strings for six as he joined his brother as the other guitarist in the band. Here is when Sebastian Mueller enters to become the bassist for SWMRS.
The reinvented – and renamed – band released two news songs in early September this year which are featured in the EP, “Miley / Uncool.” It’s also worth mentioning that the EP was published under the band’s own record label, Uncool Records. The first of the two songs, “Miley,” is the greatest example of the new direction this band is headed. For one, the band ditched the traditional two and a half minute punk songs for a longer, more developed track almost double that time. For the time, SWMRS have forgotten about the Beach Pop vibes that was so prominent in “Swim,” and returned to their punk roots. Cole Becker screams his tribute to the problematic pop star, hailing her as a “punk rock queen” and suggesting they go dye their hair together with bleach and chlorine. “Uncool” carries a recognizable punk theme of doing whatever the opposite of “cool” is, and SWMRS say it clearly in their new song – “I don’t want to be a fool / I just wanna be uncool.” Fast-paced Paramore-esque guitar riffs and their own unique sounds come together to form quite an interesting track.
SWMRS are currently on tour with Wavves and Twin Peaks. I was lucky enough to catch them in Phoenix this past Wednesday night. The stage was alive with energy, and the latest releases sounded even better live than they did in the studio. It was impressive to watch the young band excite an audience where it’s safe to say that most of the attendees have never heard their music before. They were even able to rouse the crowd to start moshing during their last song, “I Hate Los Angeles.” I’m sitting at the edge of my seat waiting for the band to release more and provide more information about a future album.
10 Essential Songs Showing the Evolution of Emily’s Army / SWMRS:
- Broadcast This
- West Coast
- Burn Apollo
- The Rescuers
- Lost At 17
- Ammonia and Bleach
- You Bit Me
Photos courtesy of the band’s Tumblr: www.swmrsswmrs.tumblr.com
Thanks for reading,
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