The team at Hopeless Records has an eye for talent – and my new indulgence from their catalog is Driver Friendly. With horns, synth, duo lead vocals and grim, grinning lyrics, this band is everything I like about “new” pop punk. They pull threads of bands that have been around for years like NGF, TBS and TDS while fitting in with the hook-friendly likes of All Time Low or We are the In Crowd (who, by the way, have a cover of “Sic Transit Gloria” that makes me want to claw my eyes out).

I was pleased to find this band, via aimless clicking through YouTube recommendations, for something new and upbeat but just so-slightly cynical on an ordinary day, full of feeling my ordinary ways. Even better to find their new LP drops next month, because those bridges, back-up vocals and radio-friendly fills just beg to be blasted through a car stereo on a hot summer night. While there’s a lot about Driver Friendly that’s pretty formulaic and perhaps juvenile, their last record has some really memorable moments and creative use of instrumentation. Beyond that, it’s usually strangely comforting to me when I find new scene bands carrying on the themes and tropes of the scene bands I grew up with – themes of falling, striving for stability, recklessness – whose songs don’t completely suck and are actually fun to listen to. These are the songs I identified with as a younger version of me, the ones with narratives of struggle, loneliness and helplessness. I still do. With every year, and every album that finds its way into meaning something in my life, there’s new manifestations and understandings of those same old fears and feelings. Who cares how new or old the song is  – or, for that matter, the band?

And as far as Driver Friendly goes, having a guest verse from Dan Campbell doesn’t hurt either. How am I not supposed to click on that? Smart move, Hopeless. 
“Used to believe in stability
Or the thought of being stable
Well, I’m not able
To stay inside the lines
Details and numbers
Swallowed up my insides
And it starts to slip away

I found safety in the taste of the ground
Why do we fall down?
You always tell me you’re just waiting for the fall
If we fall we can claw our way out
I’d rather crawl than stand so tall.

I just want to see the finish line
Just want to see the other side
But I’m not able.

Stuck between the past, some times,

and the future tense
Balance on the precipice
And it starts to slip away

I wish I could refuse to cave in
But it’s so easy to pretend I’m brave
When in the end, I’m collapsible at best.

I’m collapsible at best.

If we fall we can claw our way out,
If we fall we can claw our way out.

I found safety in the taste of the ground
Why do we fall down?
You always tell me you’re just waiting for the fall…
If we fall we can claw our way out,

I’d rather crawl than stand so tall.
~Stand So Tall 
Driver Friendly, Unimagined Bridges