NOFX and Direct Hit Live In Philly (4/27/16)

On tour supporting the release of their official autobiography book The Hepatitis Bathtub, I got a chance to see NOFX again play a sold out TLA here in Philadelphia.  Unfortunately I got there a bit late and bummed that I completely missed that ska band I can never remember how to fucking spell their name (Mephiskapheles), but got there in time for Direct Hit.

Direct Hit:

direct hit

In my opinion, Direct Hit is one of the best bands in pop-punk today and one of my favorites.  I listen to their EPs and albums so regular that Metamucil would be jealous, and was excited to get a chance to see them live again.  They recently just signed to Fat Wreck, and have a new album coming out June 24th.

From the second the band started, it was pretty obvious that there were only a handful of us who knew who they were and their songs, but those of us who did were singing along loudly.  Even those who didn’t seemed to be really digging them.

I was pleasantly surprised by their setlist, playing a bunch off of both Domesplitter and Brainless God, with a few of the upcoming new songs sprinkled in.  The newer songs definitely sounded a bit poppier than we’re used to from Direct Hit, with more melodies and harmonies, but were still incredibly solid live. Definitely a fantastic show, albeit a bit strange seeing Direct Hit play on such a large stage with barricades (I’ve only seen them in small bars and church basements previously), these guys always put on a great show and is a must if you dig pop-punk.

Setlist: (not in order, from what I remember)
The World Is Ending (No One Cares)
Satan Says
Getting What He Asked For
White Robes
Back To The Tower
A Message To The Angels Pt II
Snickers Or Reeses
Kingdom Come
Boredom Addict
They Came For Me
Werewolf Shame
We’re Fucked



NOFX has been a band for well near 33 years now… let that sink in for a second.  Like most punk fans, NOFX was one of the earliest bands I ever got into, and one of the few that still put out good music and play a solid live show.

The band took the stage, joking about how this was one of the last few nights that Fat Mike is able to party as he needs to go to rehab soon, and they mentioned that the show was being live streamed on Yahoo because apparently that’s a thing and Yahoo still exists?  They also introduced one of the members of Dancehall Crashers, with her doing keyboards and female vocals on the songs as well.

The second the band started playing their opener of 60%, the place erupted in a large chaotic circle pit that continued throughout the entirety of their set.  All songs seemed to get a big reaction, whether it was the newer Tony Sly tribute “I’m Sorry Tony” or the obvious fan favorite of “Linoleum”.

As always with NOFX, it was comedy hour up on stage wit the band taking some jabs at everyone including people under 21 (“Anyone here under 21? You all make me very uncomfortable” before launching into “Fuck The Kids”).  One particular memorable moment was after playing “Louise”, Fat Mike tells the crowd how he realizes out of all the bigger punk bands, no one would play a song like that… “Take a moment and try to imagine Al Barr of Dropkick Murphy’s or Tim Armstrong of Rancid singing the opening lines of that song”.  You got a point Fat Mike.

While the band may pride themselves on not caring and just having fun on stage, they still are easily one of the tightest and fun live bands around.  And at this point, you don’t need me to tell you to go see NOFX, you know who they are, and you either love them or you don’t (and if you don’t, you’re fucking up).

72 Hookers
Perfect Government
Seeing Double At The Triple Rock
Murder The Government
Leave It Alone
Eat The Meek
Six Years On Dope
Stickin In My Eye
What’s The Matter With Parents Today?
Franco Un-American
We March To The Beat Of An Indifferent Drum
I Believe In Goddess
Moron Brothers
I’m Sorry Tony

Fuck The Kids
Dinosaurs Will Die
Bottles To The Ground
The Brews
Kill All The White Man

NOFX – The Moron Brothers
Direct Hit! – I Told You A Lie

PEARS, Such Gold Live In Philly (4/14/16)

A couple weeks ago, I headed out to Philly dive bar Kung Fu Necktie in order to catch one of my favorite bands around these days, New Orleans PEARS.  The place had a decently sized small crowd considering it was a Thursday night and the past few times I’ve seen PEARS it seemed most didn’t know who they were,  I got there a few songs in Such Gold’s set.

Such Gold:

such goldI haven’t really heard these Rochester, NY dudes before, but they clearly have a strong following.  It seemed more people knew who they were than PEARS, and had people dancing and singing throughout their set.

Such Gold played a style of music that any fan of the pop-punk would appreciate.  Reminding me of a mix of newer pop-punk bands such as Handguns or Transit and mixing it with more melodic hardcore like A Wilhelm Scream and Lifetime, these guys played a pretty energetic set.

I couldn’t tell you what songs they played or anything as I’m not too familar with them, but if you dig your melodic hardcore closer to the pop-punk side of the spectrum, check them out.


Ever since I first heard PEARS last year, I’ve played their album “Go To Prison” nonstop.  They’ve become one of my favorite bands with their energetic live shows, seamlessly blending elements of thrash, pop-punk, hardcore, and everything in between.

Touring to support their recently released sophomore album “Green Star”, (which I’ve been meaning to post a write-up about but have been busy as shit… but spoiler: I’ve been listening to it daily since it came out), PEARS took the stage and ripped into “Forever Sad”.  Energetic as always, singer Zach was all over the stage and jumping into the crowd even with his shattered hand (which he broke earlier on an Australian tour when he jump punched the floor).  With a handful of us dancing and singing along, PEARS ripped through their short set consisting of a decent mix of both albums.

One of the best bands around today in general, if PEARS comes through your area, do yourself a favor and go check them out.  Both of the albums are amazing, as is the 7-inch they have out (which consists of the original versions of Snowflake and Anhedonia) and they absolutely kill it live.

Setlist (from what i remember, not in order)
Forever Sad
Hinged By Spine
I Love My Kennel
You’re Boring
Victim To Be
Green Star

PEARS – You’re Boring

Napalm Death, The Melvins, Melt Banana Live In Philly (4/13/16)


This past Wednesday, I headed to Philadelphia’s sold out Underground Arts in order to catch a stacked lineup of Melt Banana, The Melvins, and England’s Napalm Death.  Definitely a diverse lineup,tThe place was pretty packed out from the moment I arrived right as Melt Banana were setting up.

Melt Banana
melt banana

Japanese experimental noise punk band Melt Banana have easily been on of my favorite bands for many years now.  I’ve had the pleasure of catching them as a full band plenty of times in the past, and have got to see them as the two piece they are now a year ago over at Johnny Brenda’s.

I expected most people in the crowd to not care about them, considering they were the first openers and figured most people were there to catch the legendary Melvins or highly influential Napalm Death.  I was dead wrong.

Melt Banana took the stage with guitarist Agata playing an aural soundscape while vocalist Onuki hit her handheld drum pad producing coin sounds from the Mario games, before blasting into “Chain Shot To Have Some Fun”.  The place immediately erupted, with a bunch of us up front opening up a pit and us singing along.

Melt Banana kept energy levels high as they tore through their set which consisted of songs mostly from their latest Fetch, before Onuki announced they would be playing “six short songs”.

With strobe lights, a wall of sound, and their electronic-punk-grind chaos, Melt Banana remains one of the heaviest bands around and puts on a more intense, heavier show even as a two-piece than most other bands.  Easily one of the best live bands around, they definitely put on a fantastic set, with my only complaint being I wish they had more time to play.

Setlist (From what I remember, not in order):
Chain Shot To Have Some Fun
The Hive
Vertigo Game
Left Dog (Run Caper Run)
Infection Detective
6 quick songs, but the only I remember is Dog Song. May have been the quick ones on Bambi’s Dilemma.
Candy Gun

The Melvins

Washington’s The Melvins have been around for a long time, dating back from 1983, and have an extensive discography to prove it (over 20 something studio albums, and countless EPs, singles, etc).  Their punk/sludge/metal sound has influenced a number of bands, with the biggest probably being Nirvana who stated they wouldn’t have existed if it weren’t for The Melvins.

Even though grunge has mostly died out, The Melvins keep cranking out albums and touring, putting on a solid live show. Plenty of their set consisted of the slower “stoner sludge”: slow tempo, low tuned guitars jams that is similar to My War era Black Flag, but they threw in plenty of their thrashier songs as well (which an ADD riddled punk fan like myself prefers).

A solid set, while my knowledge of their recorded work is a bit limited (only having a handful of albums), they definitely put on a tight, enjoyable set, and was good to see one of the more influential bands of our time live.

Eyes Fly
The Kicking Machine
National Hamster
Magic Pig Detective
With Yo Heart Not Yo Hands
Frosted Flake
Sesame Street Meat
The Water Glass
Onions Make The Milk Taste Bad
The Bloated Pope
A Growing Disgust
The Decay Of Lying
Second Coming
Halo Of Flies

Napalm Death:

Napalm Death

Speaking of influential bands, when it comes to grindcore / extreme metal, there are few bands that are as well known or was as influential as England’s Napalm Death.  With the band’s existence dating back to 1981, Napalm Death has influenced plenty of other grind bands over the years.

From the moment they started, the place erupted with stage dives and a sizeable pit as Napalm Death ripped through a set consisting heavily of songs off of their highly rated latest album “Apex Predator – Easy Meat” with a few older songs thrown in, mostly off of Scum and From Enslavement To Obliteration.

Taking some time to talk about an outsider’s perspective of our current elections and candidates, obviously incredibly critical of Trump and his proposed racist policies, Napalm Death also kept things light hearted as they joked with the crowd about Slipknot’s lasting influence of grindcore and metal.

An incredibly fun show, Napalm Death puts on a killer set.  With such a stacked lineup, you really should go check this tour out if it comes near you.

Apex Predator – Easy Meat
Silence Is Deafening
When All Is Said And Done
Smash A Single Digit
Timeless Flogging
Continuing War On Stupidity
Dear Slum Landlord…
Social Sterility
Suffer The Children
Breed To Breathe
Mentally Murdered
Conform (Siege cover)
The World Keeps Turning
Lucid Fairytale
How The Years Condemn
You Suffer
Nazi Punks Fuck Off (Dead Kennedys Cover)
Adversarial/Copulating Snakes

Melt Banana – Lost Parts Stinging Me So Cold
The Melvins – A History Of Drunks
Napalm Death – Smash A Single Digit

Fenix TX and Suck Brick Kid Live In Philly (3/31/16)


Last week, I headed to Philly’s Underground Arts to catch one of the first bands I ever saw way back in the day, Fenix TX as they supported Unwritten Law on their tour.  I was surprised by how much of a turnout there were for these bands, especially considering the last time Fenix TX released any music was 15 years ago.

I missed the local opener but got there in time for Orlando’s Suck Brick Kid.

Suck Brick Kid:

Orlando’s Suck Brick Kid took the stage, and I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  I’ll be honest, I’m a bit picky when it comes to pop-punk, and don’t find myself listening to the genre very often, especially newer bands (unless your pop-punk sounds more like The Queers than Newfound Glory.)

The second they started playing, I was pleasantly surprised.  The band clearly pulled from a bunch of different influences, and they reminded me a bit of A Wilhelm Scream or Hot Water Music if they were a pop-punk band.

The band bantered plenty with the crowd, talking about how they’ve been asking everyone at each show what their city is the best at (Baltimore is the best at heroin and riots apparently).  Philly answered “cheesesteaks”, but I would have gone with booing people.  Each their own.

If you’re into A Wilhelm Scream at all, give these guys a listen.  Bonus for throwing in a Blink-182 cover.

Fenix TX:

Story time!  My first show ever when I was just a kid still getting into punk was Fenix TX.  Strangely enough, they were opening for that Christian rap-rock band P.O.D at the Electric Factory over 15 years ago and I went to see Fenix TX, and am pretty sure I was one of the only people who was there for them at that show.

I played the shit out of their Self Titled growing up, and while I never really became familiar with their much bigger Lechuza (as my friend told me when I told him I didn’t know any of these “new” songs “dude these came out almost 15 years ago”), and I wasn’t sure how much off their first album they would play.

After ripping through a bunch off Lechuza including Phoebe Cates, Something Bad Is Gonna Happen, and Katie W, Fenix TX launched into some of their older stuff including Minimum Wage and Ben.  The crowd, while not really dancing, was enthusiastically singing along throughout the set.  Announcing that they were actually writing new music,  they played a few new songs which were definitely a bit heavier.

A fun show, it was good to see one of the seminal bands that were one of my gateway bands into punk again, and definitely nostalgic seeing them after all these years and hearing songs like Flight 601 again live.  While I don’t really listen to much pop-punk these days, their Self Titled will always still be one of my favorite albums.

Setlist (from what I remember, not in order):
Phoebe Cates
Something Bad Is Gonna Happen
Katie W
Minimum Wage
Abba Zabba
New Song
Flight 601New Song
All My Fault

Fenix TX – Surf Song

Graf Orlock – Crime Traveler (For fans of DANGERS, Ghostlimb, Pig Destroyer)


LA’s Graf Orlock are finally back with their latest album Crime Traveler, their first full-length in since 2009’s Destination Time Today.  Known for their heavy hardcore/grindcore mixed with clips and lyrics focused on various movies, Crime Traveler follows the same format, only this time focuses on a script that the band themselves wrote.  A concept album through and through, Graf Orlock writes:

“The Crime Traveler film tells the story of a French-Canadian assassin who discovers a wormhole and travels back in time to kill American politicians so that Canada can attain superpower status in the future. As the samples selected for the album illustrate, our anti-hero zips through time and space on his mission – rubbing elbows with John Hinckley at the Reagan assassination, witnessing the Exxon Valdez oil spill, and more.”

Sure, the story is a bit Terminator-esque and the dialog and acting (at least from the little I gathered from the intro clips) is downright awful at times (as is expected with a B-movie) but that’s besides the point.  Graf Orlock has always been about fun, and this album definitely is, and the music is the same crushing, chugging hardcore we’ve come to love from Graf Orlock.  Opener “Bad Cell Service On Connecticut Avenue” is an aggressive blast beat fueled song about the Reagan assassination attempt, while the proceeding  “600,000 Tons Of Explosive Ordance” displays Graf Orlock’s sludgier side.

One thing noticeably different from their earlier full lengths is singer/guitarist Justin (of Dangers/Ghostlimb) has much more vocal duties, and their old singer left the band since Destination Time Today (no, he didn’t actually die in a car crash) and has been replaced.  If you’ve been following the bands EPs since including “Doombox” and “Los Angeles”, you’ll know the new singer fits right in, but doesn’t have the higher pitched shrill screams of the old vocalist.

A fun and blistering album, Graf Orlock nails it as usual.  If you’re a fan of grind with more punk/hardcore influences than metal, definitely pick up “Crime Traveler”, it’s a killer album that I’ve been listening to pretty much daily as of late.

Graf Orlock – Bad Service On Connecticut Ave

Graf Orlock – Destination: Time Today
Graf Orlock – Destination Time Tomorrow
Ghostlimb – Infrastructure
Ghostlimb – Bearing And Distance
Dangers – Messy, Isn’t It?
Dangers – Anger

Official Release:

Less Than Jake and Bigwig Live In Philly (3/11/16)

LTJ tour

This past Friday, I headed up to Philadelphia’s new venue, The Foundry in order to two of my all-time favorite bands: Bigwig and Less Than Jake.  I grew up listening to both of them and playing their music ad-nauseum, and the fact that Less Than Jake was playing Losing Streak in it’s entirety had me incredibly excited. It’s 2016, ska’s pretty much been on life-support, and they’re still able to sell out shows.

I got to the venue, and I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan at first.  The Foundry is the definition of a Live Nation venue: with $4 waters (and taking the cap off for insurance reasons), barricades and signs saying “No Moshing/crowd surfing/etc.”  I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  The one good thing is that they played the side venue, which is a lot smaller than the main venue over at The Fillmore Philly.  The room itself was actually pretty intimate and small, making it much more suitable for a punk show.


These NJ punks were setting up when I got there, and having seen them a few times lately, I was pretty excited to catch them once again.  Last time I caught them in Philly opening for the Queers, there was a decent amount of people who were there for them.  This time, not so much.  Besides a small handful of us, it was apparent most people had no idea who they were, but that didn’t stop a (very) few of us from shouting along and dancing throughout their set.

Bigwig killed it, playing an energetic set composed of songs off all four of their full lengths, with a lot of emphasis off An Invitation To Tragedy and Stay Asleep.  Bigwig sounded incredibly tight as usual, although a bit strange to see them behind a barricade and the lack of crowd movement (my girlfriend put it best when she said to me: “whoa, I feel safe at a Bigwig show.  This isn’t supposed to happen.”)

Regardless, a sick set as usual, hopefully they keep up the increase of shows in the Philly/Jersey area and maybe even record a new album.

Setlist: (from what I remember, not in order)
Sink Or Swim
Sore Losers
A War Inside
Mr. Asshole
Best Of Me
Girl In The Green JacketQueers cover
Counting Down

Less Than Jake:

Less Than Jake was my favorite ska band for many years, and I can’t even begin to describe the sheer amount of hours I’ve spent over the many years riding the school bus and skating to my Losing Streak cd.  I still listen to both LTJ and ska pretty regularly, so I was beyond excited to finally catch them play the album in it’s entirety.

The band took the stage and announced how they were amazed by the fact that people still love and show so much enthusiasm for this album they wrote 20 years ago.  The speakers boomed the all too familiar intro: “This is the old dude, Howie J. Reynolds, and you’re listening to Less Than Jake.”  The place was suddenly pandemonium as a pit opened up with people pushing, trying to skank and all around just having a good time to the opening chords and horns of “Automatic”.

The band ripped through Losing Streak, taking the occasional break to talk to the crowd about some of the history of the songs (and thank god, we’re all old now, this skanking/dancing shit isn’t as easy as it was 13 years ago).  At one point the band was talking about how no one liked the next song, but they have to play it because it’s on the album… and of course it’s one of my favorites “Ask The Magic 8 Ball”, which I realize was probably my only opportunity to ever hear that song live.

Before I knew it, they were playing “Lockdown”, the closing song off one of the essential soundtracks of my youth, and it was over almost as soon as it began as they left the stage.  When they came out to crowd demand of an encore, they started playing songs off their newer albums(read: anything after Hello Rockview), and while I really love some of them, I burned all the energy I had during Losing Streak.  A fantastic show, even though I was filled with a bittersweet feeling of both excitement from seeing it and sadness that I may never get to see them do the majority of those songs live again.  But this is a ska post, so I’ll stop getting all emo on you… besides I’m hopeful they’ll do Pezcore in it’s entirety near me one day.

Unfortunately their show the next night of Hello Rockview sold out before I was able to get tickets, but I heard that was insane as well.  If they’re doing these shows near you and you ever were a fan of LTJ, definitely go, you won’t be disappointed.

Happy Man
9th and Pine
Sugar In Your Gas Tank
Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts
Krazy Glue
Never Going Back To New Jersey
How’s My Driving Doug Hastings
Just Like Frank
Ask The Magic 8 Ball
Jen Doesn’t Like Me Anymore
Rock-N-Roll Pizzeria

Good Enough
Look What Happened
Suburban Myth
Give Me Something To Believe In
The Ghosts Of Me And You

Less Than Jake – My Very Own Flag

How to be a 3rd wave ska dork
Less Than Jake – Greetings And Salutations 
Less Than Jake – Pesto EP
Less Than Jake – Pezcore


American Nightmare Live In Philly (3/4/15)

American Nightmare

Boston’s American Nightmare have been one of my favorite hardcore bands since I was an angsty 18 year old in 2003, and I find myself listening to their albums and EPs pretty regularly even 13 years later as an angsty 30 year old.  Their music got me through a lot of shit, and the first time I saw them over a decade ago with Hope Conspiracy still remains one of my most memorable show experiences ever.  On a cool Friday night, I headed to Philly’s sold out Underground Arts right as American Nightmare was setting up.

The place was pretty packed, but there was a surprising amount of room for a sold out show.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect: I’ll be honest, as much as I love American Nightmare, the past few times I’ve seen them in bigger venues have been a bit strange feeling, with Wes having a hard time hitting the screams and the overproduction feel of the venue.  Well let me just say that this was without a doubt the best AN performance I’ve seen since I went to their reunion show up in Boston a few years back.

The band took the stage and opened with “AM/PM” which had us opening a pit and immediately piling on.  Ripping into “Hearts” without skipping a beat, Wes and crew were on point playing a tight, fast paced show with barely any time to breath as they shredded through their set.  Playing a majority of songs off of both Background Music and Year One, it felt right to have them in a smaller venue again (while I’ve had fun in the past seeing them in NYC at Webster Hall, it always felt a little bit…off.)

Love American
(We Are)
Please Die
Fuck What Fireworks Stand For
Shoplifting In A Ghost Town
I Saved Latin
Calculation Nation
Protest Song #00
I’ve Shared Your Lips And Now They Sicken Me
Postmark My Compass
Your Arsonist
There’s A Black Hole In The Shadow Of The Pru

Encore: (I think they did Crime Scene, but I don’t really remember)

American Nightmare – The Ice Age Is Coming!

I Drew A Heart Around The Name Of Your City:
American Nightmare – Year One
American Nightmare – Background Music
Scenester 101: How To Be An Old School Hardcore Kid In 10 Easy Steps!

Hub City Stompers – Live In Philadelphia (2/21/16)


On an unseasonably warm Sunday night, my girlfriend and I headed to Philadelphia’s Kung Fu Neckie to catch my home state NJ’s ska/oi/punk band Hub City Stompers.  I wasn’t expecting the place to have many people considering the fact it’s a Sunday ska show, but KFN had a decent crowd set up.  We got there a little late, missing their first song but getting there just in time for Chatterbox.

One of the first things I’ve noticed was the absence of saxophonist/singer Jenny Whiskey from the stage, with the band claiming she couldn’t make it tonight but they’d be in full strength at the next show.  I don’t know if it was because of this or not, but HCS played a bunch of their older songs as well which had a few of us singing and dancing along.

Always a fun time with their songs taking on everything from emo, 3rd wave ska, racism and everything in between, if you prefer your ska to be more similar to bands like The Specials or Madness than Reel Big Fish, definitely check them out.  I’ve seen them live many times over the past decade and they never fail to put on an great show.

Setlist: (from what I remember, not in order)
Pants Music
Sharky 17 (Inspecter 7)
Little Julie Swastiska
Skins Don’t Cry
Popeye (Inspecter 7)
Hub City Stompers (Inspecter 7)
I’ve Got A Boot
Night Of The Living

Hub City Stompers – WTFIU?

Hub City Stompers – Life After Death
Hub City Stompers – Blood Sweat And Beers
Hub City Stompers – Ska Ska Black Sheep

Guttermouth Live In Philly (2/12/16)

guttermouth tattoo conv

I headed to Philly’s small Fishtown dive bar the Kung Fu Necktie to catch Huntington Beach’s Guttermouth.  I’ve been a fan of these guys since I was like a freshman in high school nearly 17 years ago (…fuck I’m old) and both times I’ve seen them live they still put on a killer show.

The place was pretty packed when I got there right before Guttermouth took the stage, and it was clearly a Guttermouth show, as indicated by the drunk dude who decided to breakdown the stage before the band even went on until he was physically lifted off fireman style.

The vibe was a bit weird at first, with a bunch of people with cameras right up front (keep in mind this is a really divey venue, with no barricades and a low stage) and I was worried that this meant people weren’t going to dance, but my concerns were immediately put to rest by the large frantic pit that broke out as soon as Mark and company finished sound checking and opened with The Album Formerly Known As Full Length LP opener “Race Track”Following it up with “Asshole”, the crowd didn’t let up for the majority of the show, and Mark was all over the place running around, jumping into the pit and drunkenly quipping with the crowd.

At one point, Mark asked the crowd if punk bands still frequented Philly, which someone replied “yes, except Rancid”.  To which they started playing “Ruby Soho” while Mark mumbled like Tim Armstrong and nailed the impersonation.

The band ripped through a bunch of their classics, with all the juvenile and brash humor that they’re known for.  While they’re getting up there in age, Guttermouth still puts on an incredibly energetic and fun show.

Setlist (From what I remember, not in order)
Race Track
Do The Hustle
Jaimie’s Petting Zoo
Lucky The Donkey
Where Was I?
No Such Thing
End On 9
Bakers Dozen
Bruce Lee Vs The Kiss Army
She’s Got The Look
Trinket Trading Tick Toting Tired Toothless Tramps
Party Of Two (Your Table Is Ready)

Guttermouth – Bakers Dozen

Guttermouth – Musical Monkey
Guttermouth – 4 New Songs

Official Site:

Leftover Crack – Constructs Of The State (For fans of Choking Victim, Operation Ivy, Star Fucking Hipsters)


It’s 2016, and I’m really fucking loving the new Leftover Crack album – file under shit I’d never thought I’d be saying.  I’ll be honest, I’ve been a Leftover Crack fan for nearly 15 years now, but I didn’t really have high hopes for their latest Fat Wreck release Constructs Of The State.  For one, it’s been over 11 years since their last album Fuck World Trade, and on top of it founding member Ezra has since left the band, so I just assumed it would just be watered down.  Upon my first listen of Constructs Of The State, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Constructs Of The State is 13 tracks is a fantastic mix of ska, punk, hardcore and metal creating that crack rock steady sound that you’ve come to love from the band.  Songs like opener “Archaic Subjugation” and “Slave To Throne” show the heavier side of things with plenty of hardcore and thrash metal influences, while the more ska influenced “System Fucked” is an incredibly catchy song featuring Jesse Michaels of Operation Ivy/Classics Of Love that’s so damn skankable, you’d think it was 2001 again.  (In addition to Jesse Michaels, there are plenty of musical guests throughout the entire album, including members of Crass, Dead Milkmen, Bouncing Souls, Riverboat Gamblers, and plenty more.)

Lyrically, the band is political as ever with songs about systematic racism, lies the armies recruit with, etc.  But Stza also goes down a bit more personal route with songs about seeing drug addiction ruining so many of his friend’s lives on the incredibly catchy “Bedbugs and Beyond” (It even has a direct reference to former member Ezra and his struggles with addiction) that ends with a cautionary “these fucking bugs eat punks.”

Speaking of the white elephant in the room Ezra, yes his absence is noticeable on Constructs Of The State, but not nearly as much as you might think.  As proven with Morning Glory, Ezra is a pretty talented song writer and his songs definitely helped expand the sound of their previous albums and his voice proved to be a nice contrast to Stza, but at the same time according to Stza when asked if it was strange to record without him: “Not really. He was never very involved in the recording process, and even less in the LöC songwriting. He wrote/co-wrote about six songs between Fuck World Trade, Deadline, and the Crack Rock Steady 7 split with F-Minus. He played guitar on a hidden track at the end of Mediocre Generica and he plays guitar on about six of the now 21 tracks on Fuck World Trade. Other than that, he only sang or played guitar on “his” songs. There are three of those. People were led to believe that he was more involved in these projects by my direction. Even on the Choking Victim full length, No Gods/No Managers, he is actually only on about three songs and he’s playing bass and not actually playing any guitars or vocals as the liner notes otherwise dictate. All that being said, his contributions were not insignificant and the few songs that he was around to write guitar for benefited greatly. He’s a talented musician.”

With all that being said, Constructs Of The State is a stellar album, and a must for any Leftover Crack fan.  It’s been in my regular rotation since I got it in November, and I haven’t been able to stop listening since.

Leftover Crack – Syste Fucked (ft Jesse Michaels)