Beanpole frontman Vinnie Dombrowski flaunted a vaguely southern drawl, and his band knew how to crunch out a rock radio chorus like the savviest bar & grill veterans. Yet we don't generally include Sponge in the grody rogue's gallery of post-Vedder, late-'90s grunge puke, à la Collective Soul or Candlebox. On the driving "Plowed," the Detroit quintet tastefully conjured the best of Social Distortion, and on "Molly," they got all gussied up as '80s prom paramours, slicing through the fuzzbox fog with sparkly, sweet, romantic arpeggios. They even had ambitious -- if bizarre --plans (later scrapped) to make an entire record about drag queens, for God's sake.
Yeah, there was some spirit lurking in that decomposing genre's corpse. Unfortunately, Sponge became less and less marketable as the goofy Icarus flights of ska, industrial, nü-metal, etc. pushed second-generation grunge into permanent consignment. Three-fifths of the band jumped ship, and now we're left with For All the Drugs in the World, a new full-length of uninspired, risk-free cock rock. Christ, they're even rockin' some "Cherry Pie"-era Warrant 'tude in their promo photos. Hopefully tonight's inevitable greatest-hits revue will turn the few young'uns in the audience onto their earliest, far more legitimate efforts.