• Waterdog
  • Waterdog (Atlantic) 1995 

Of all the Green Day clones who streamed onto the major-label stage as Dookie kept on printing money — and, truth be told, there weren’t that many, not like the swarm of grunge do-bees that sprang out of Pearl Jam’s poo (whatever that says about the two groups’ relative merits) — Waterdog are…somewhere in the middle. The Providence, Rhode Island quartet is both credible (meaning they didn’t hear “Welcome to Paradise” on the clock radio and chuck away all those years of jam-funk practice to join the fun) and deft enough to ape the Clash, quote a Billy Bragg lyric, trot out a ska beat and lightfinger an East Bay melody or two without setting off burglar alarms. If that doesn’t mean there are any major signs of originality or personality on Waterdog’s fine-sounding debut, a few memorable tracks (most notably “Jessica” and the self-effacing, realistic “What’s the Difference”) and infectious enthusiasm give Waterdog the right to jump around the pop-punk playground with all the other kids.

[Ira Robbins]