Come to think of it, not a lot of rough-hewn DIY stuff ends up here either. I’ve never been personally into the anarchic posturing of old-school punks, nor the fetishistic preference for noise over musicality. But every now and then I stumble upon something from that world that reminds me that a certain number of punksters are popsters at heart, and that, when used in symbiotic tandem, punk and pop can offer a uniquely satisfying experience. And I’m not talking about what has been labeled “punk pop” on the commercial side of things. I’m talking about something like “Resilient Bastard,” with its squonky guitar work, unschooled but determined vocals, sly sense of humor both lyrically and musically (sleigh bells? really?), and, best of all, its spirited hook, which depends equally on the words and music. No way that chorus kills the way it does if the singer leads with a line other than “I don’t care/I’m a resilient bastard.”
Johnny “Shellhead” and Jen Shag (Shell, Shag, you see), although from different places–he, Missouri; she, New Jersey–are both rooted musically in the ’90s DIY scene in San Francisco, and began playing together in 1999, first in the trio Kung Fu USA. ShellShag emerged from that experience. “Resilient Bastard” will be found on the album Rumors In Disguise, ShellShag’s second full-length, scheduled for release in February on Don Giovanni Records.