Review: Rancid – Let the Dominoes Fall by underground
August 14, 2009, 6:20 pm
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Barring an exception release over the remaining months of 2009, Rancid’s Let the Dominoes Fall is the album of the year. After a six year hiatus, Rancid have come back with a new drummer and an album worthy of their fine back catalogue.

Rancid do something few bands their age have. Each album, apart from perhaps their first two, differs greatly from their others. This means the band do not sound tired and are able to take inspiration from different genres without losing their core sound or fans.  Let the Dominoes Fall has the rough rock n roll feel of their early sound, the radio friendly song writing and style of Out Come the Wolves, the reggae and ska infusion of Life Won’t Wait,  the energy, grit and passion of Rancid 2000 and the soul and hip hop attitude of Indestructible.

Tim and Lars give Matt Freeman another chance on vocals in several songs and his voice never sounded so good, or rather appropriate, especially on LA River. The band’s ode to New Orleans is fantastic, but this really is an album of many highlights and few, if any, fillers. Typical to form the album has 19 tracks, so there is a lot of listening to be done.

If you haven’t already bought this album, make sure to purchase the special edition with acoustic bonus track. Sceptical of how well Rancid songs could make the switch to unplugged, I was surprised about how listenable the 12 track bonus CD is. Great for road trips through the countryside!

Definitely worth the wait.


Review: NOFX – Coaster by underground
August 14, 2009, 6:14 pm
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The first NOFX album I bought was Pump up the Valium. I couldn’t stand it. I was just getting into punk, having moved on from the Blink 182s and Green Days, but NOFX was not for me. Where’s the intro, verse, chorus, verse, etc. formula? After a few listens I gave up on NOFX.

NOFX was an acquired taste for me that I eventually became addicted to. I picked up their back catalogue and eagerly awaited new releases. Their latest, Coaster, has left me wondering whether they are past it though.

It’s not that musically it isn’t good. El Hefe and Melvin’s trademark licks and palm muted riffs are there in abundance. Fat Mike can play the bass like few in the business and Smelly is still a killer drummer.

It’s just a bit same old, same old.

Fat Mike is still singing about drinking and hating on religion. Sometimes it works; I am an Alcoholic and Blasphemy (the Victimless Crime), sometimes it doesn’t; First Call and Best God in Show. These songs aren’t bad; they’re just not that good. Mediocore – if you will.

The highlight is My Orphan Year. Unfortunately all too little really stands out as exceptional.

Coaster is the first NOFX album since Valium I have put in stereo, listened to for half a dozen times and then left in its case on the rack for several months.

I have on several occasions rewritten this review. It appears the album is slowly growing on me…

Review: Anti-Flag – The People or the Gun by underground
August 14, 2009, 6:08 pm
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As a fan of this band for many years I may be something of an exception in their older fanbase. When The People of the Gun was released, while many older fans heralded the Pittsburgh four-piece’s return to a minor label and to their earlier sound, I was mourning a lost opportunity for the band.

Don’t get me wrong – I love their older stuff. But after the fairly experimental Bright Lights of America, which was a bit hit and miss (many songs were perhaps too long), I was excited to see where the band would go. Instead of pushing the punk envelope, Anti-Flag opted to revert back to their sound of old, which fails for me, because their bratty and sometimes naive protest songs just don’t seem to apply to a band that should have matured. If I want to hear something off Underground Network, Die for the Government, or Mobilize, I’ll put on those albums.

The People and the Gun is a quality record, although there are a few low lights and even fewer highlights. Some of the album is painful, such as the lyrically pathetic The Economy is Suffering – Let it Die, but there are glimpses of brilliance. The Gre(A)t Depression is refreshing on the album for its creativity, while still possessing the Anti-Flag singalong typical of their back catalogue, and When all the Lights go out could fit in on any of their previous albums such is it the quintessential Anti-Flag song.

Voting for violence by underground

The question on the paper reads “Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offence in New Zealand?”. When I received my citizen initiated referendum voting paper I asked myself “What accelerant would best burn my ballot?”.

Nine million dollars wasted during a recession. The question is absolute bullshit. Anyone half literate agrees. It does not ask the Government to do anything. If the referendum was binding, nothing would come of any vote. And fortunately anyway, our Prime Minister has the sense to shut the whole thing down before the vote is out.

No is yes and yes is no. The question requires one to acknowledge that  smacking is “good parental correction”, against the judgement of the social agencies who we trust with our most vulnerable and child experts the world over.

We are taught that violence is never the answer for anything. New Zealanders’ pacifist psyche has surprisingly been discarded on this issue. All of a sudden violence is a reasonable way to deal with a situation you cannot handle. Don’t say it is not violence to smack a child. To use physical force to get someone to do what you want, or to stop them doing something you don’t want them to, is violence. What message does this teach children?

The issue has been distorted. The repeal of section 59 of the Crimes Act was to remove the defence of “reasonable force”. The cases where this law was used to keep child abusers from justice have been well documented. Those who have distorted this argument are absolving these child abuses of their actions. How was it the country was so easily deceived by coercive lobby groups? The PM has rightly said he will only look at reversing the amendment if it is shown not to work. The police have come out repeatedly saying there is no sign it isn’t working. Is the country not listening?

Social norms change. A referendum 40 or 50 years ago on something like smoking in restaurants or airplanes, women’s rights to choose, homosexuality, corporate punishment or pay equality would have received different results than now. Things that were once not acceptable are now common place and visa versa. It’s called evolving. Otherwise it would be only wealthy landowners casting their votes  while their slaves sustain their lavish lifestyles. Or life in Iran.

People are already using violence less against their children. In thirty years time smacking will be a dirty word. And the Neanderthal’s children will herald a brighter future where violence is not acceptable. Ever.