by John Tarpley
This Chicago, Ill., act is, without a doubt, about the closest thing you can get to pop-punk godfathers. For the few uninitiated (or the flat-out young), the Smoking Popes spent the mid-'90s making a name for themselves by trading in punk snarl for crooning vocals that float somewhere between Mel Torme and Morrissey. Shockingly, it worked well. Really well. The band's breakthrough single, "Need You Around," was omnipresent in the decade before last (wrap your Jennifer Aniston haircut around that one) and still stands up years later. Since the Popes' heyday, they've kept releasing music at a steady tack, including their latest, "This is Only a Test," a well-received concept album which landed in stores last month. Another act that aims to tie punk attitude to the golden oldie aesthetic, Girl in a Coma, returns to Little Rock to open the night.
Check it out: "Stay Down"