"Night Owls" (Wicked Cool Records; 2023)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


Pop punk has been through a lot over the past few years. It came out of the gate super-heated, seemed to fade for awhile, grew back into a monster somewhere along the line, and I'm not really sure where it sits, popularity-wise, at this exact moment. But none of that really matters. What matters is that The Dollyrots have pushed through it all, the good, the bad, the meh, and managed to come out sounding as strong as they ever have on their new release "Night Owls."

"Night Owls" is thirteen tracks of pure pop punk pleasure. There's the driving, chord-driven guitars (which I'm pretty certain Joan Jett created), there's the jaunty tunes and their fun-filled lyrics, there's the bounce you get from listening. It's kind of like the antidote to Slayer. You listen to Slayer, you feel mean and edgy and powerful. You still get some edge with The Dollyrots, of course, but there's something uplifting about their music, something fun and sunny (even when the lyrics aren't).

Of the thirteen tracks here, it's hard to say which one's my favorite. Even though the title alone for "Hot Mom with the Skinny Pants On" put sit somewhere up near the top. And the surprisingly thoughtful lyrics for "When We're Sober" make it a favorite, too.

If you've ever been a fan of the Dollyrots, there's nothing here that will surprise you or turn you off—with the exception of some of the more mature lyrics (again, "When We're Sober" comes to mind). This is what the Dollyrots have been doing since they first formed and, hopefully, they'll keep doing it forever. Like all of the Dollyrots albums, "Night Owls" is like a breath of fresh air and a visit from your favorite neighbor. It's cool, it's comfortable and it puts a smile on your face.

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"A Little Messed Up" (Blackheart Records; 2010)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


The Dollyrots do it again with the irresistibly infectious "A Little Messed Up." This is one energetic rock'n'roll record that will have you bobbing your head, tapping your toes and singing along after just one listen.

In this era of Katy Perry and Orianthi, The Dollyrots fit right in. Their sassy pop/punk sound delivers sweet, sly vocals (courtesy of bassist Kelly Ogden) backed with chunky guitar and engaging melodies, rhythms and lyrics. It's a little like audio caffeine: Listening to this CD will put an extra bounce in your step and probably a smile on your face.

"A Little Messed Up" starts with "Rock Control," a harder-edged track that once again brings to mind Blackheart Records' Joan Jett. The CD bounces around a little from there, exploring surf punk, Katy Perry-type pop, Heathers-like school girls swagger and more. But it's never boring. The band never takes a moment to belt out a hit single ballad but instead chooses to push forward with their "bounce rock" from start to finish.

As energetic as the band is on CD, I can't wait to see them live. If they put half the charisma in their live show that they capture in the studio on "A Little Messed Up," their onstage performance has got to be breathtaking.

The Dollyrots: Kelly Ogden - vox, bass; Luis Cabezas - Guitar, vox; Chris Black - drums.

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"Because I'm Awesome" (Blackheart Records; 2007)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton


Pop punk can suck and suck hard. Take any of the legion Blink 182 knock-offs out there as an example of true suckiness. But, just when you think there may be no more life in pop punk, along comes The Dollyrots and their CD "Because I'm Awesome."

The Dollyrots don't break any new ground with "Because I'm Awesome." The CD even sounds a little like the owner of the label this recording was released on -- Joan Jett and her Blackheart Records. But, once you combine the chunky guitars, hook-laden choruses, girl-ish (and grrl-ish) vocals and bright production with the band's almost magical personality and charisma, the end product is an irresistible and energetic kick in the pants.

One track on the CD pretty much sums up the rest of the record. It's a cover of the bubble gum hit, "Brand New Key," originally recorded by Melanie in 1971. What makes this particular track so descriptive of the rest of the CD is its sweet, sing-song bounce combined with its hard-driving punk rock guitars. You can't help but get caught up in it, and you don't mind going along for the ride.

According to some reviews I've read, the band's previous CD, "Eat My Heart Out," was much grittier and heavier than "Because I'm Awesome." We'll find out because this CD has made me want to hear more from The Dollyrots.

The Dollyrots: Kelly Ogden - vox, bass & spoons; Luis Cabezas - Guitar, vox & piano; Chris Black - drums. Amy Wood performed drums on "Because I'm Awesome."

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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