The world probably doesn't need another hardworking Bad Religion sound-alike, but Denver just might. You have to admire Dr. Neptune for earning a spot on the 2005 Warped Tour by stalking the 2004 outing with guerrilla sets played to bleary-eyed mall punks as they waited in line. On its second self-released EP, the persistent Dr. Neptune plays tight melodic punk with enthusiasm and sincerity that overshadows its lack of originality. Steve Roberts and Ross McAfee's guitars provide a warm, fuzzy podium from which gruff-yet-cuddly Darin Bowman pontificates on matters emotional ("Help Me Help You"), political ("Enter Attila") and self-referential ("In Control"). Drummer Gabe Dickenson kills his kit with admirable athleticism while Scott Riddle holds down a bouncy bottom end. The formula isn't particularly challenging or inventive, but the group's exuberance is infectious. The highlight is the hidden "This Awkward Bliss," a sensitive acoustic number featuring Bowman's best impression of a lovestruck, slightly countrified Mike Ness.
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