Whenever a trend is hot, one can count on certain things: major labels will try to cash in and milk the trend for all it is worth, and a glut of sound-alike bands will jump on the bandwagon. In the late '90s and early 2000s, the emo/punk-pop trend was hot, and plenty of generic clone bands were getting signed left and right. Fenix TX, however, was a cut above much of the competition. This album originally came out independently in 1997, when Fenix TX had yet to sign with MCA and was still called Riverfenix (a name they got rid of rather than risk being sued by the estate of the late actor River Phoenix). Then, in 1999, MCA re-released the album and added two new tracks: "Flight 601 (All I've Got Is Time)" and "Surf Song." Although a bit uneven, Fenix TX's debut is still superior to many of the emo/punk-pop releases that came out in the late '90s. At their best, Fenix brings good power pop instincts to the table -- their blend of loud, fast punk aggression and poppy melodies is especially appealing on "Minimum Wage," the radio favorite "All My Fault," and the abovementioned "Surf Song." Also noteworthy is the goofy "Apple Pie Cowboy Toothpaste," which finds the band combining punk-pop with early pre-Run-D.M.C.-style rap (à la the Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, or the Treacherous Three). Not all of the tunes are memorable; Fenix TX's debut also has a few weak, pedestrian tracks. But when the Houston natives/San Diego residents are genuinely inspired, one hears their potential. Is this CD a five-star masterpiece? No, but it's a generally likable debut that has more pluses than minuses.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson