(Guest review by Derek Obregon)
Legendary SoCal punk rockers Lagwagon have come out with a new CD after nine years, Hang . . . and thank god they’re back! If you’ve never heard them before, be prepared for a very fast, technical style that embodies ’90s new-school punk. A typical Lagwagon record is catchy and upbeat, but what sets this one apart is that the tracks are tougher and darker than usual. There is fast drumming, precise pauses and melodic harmonies. You’ll hear hints of acoustic tracks reminiscent of lead singer Joey Cape’s solo acoustic work along with very cool and unexpected breakdowns Dueling guitars meld together so perfectly to show off Chris “Big Bitch” Flippin and Chris Rest’s chemistry while sick bass lines from one of the best in the business, Joe Raposo, also run rampant throughout the album.
The song “Western Settlements” reminds me of his old thrash-metal band, RKL, if RKL slowed things down to a Lagwagon pace. “Made of Broken Parts” brings me back to the Trashed album era, but the song “Reign” sounds most like a classic Lagwagon hit. Tom Hanks would be pleased with the track “Obsolete Absolute” because you hear the sound of a typewriter start out the song, but a quick bass attack really jumpstarts it. The almost two minute intro to get to the real meat of this six-minute song makes it a nice surprise because punk songs are notorious for being short. “One More Song” softens things up a bit with some piano and Cape’s vulnerable voice. The song title came from a line in a Tony Sly song (of No Use for a Name) “Liver let Die.” Cape and Sly were close friends before he passed away in 2012, and as the Caper says, “The last days we were on tour together, [Sly] was writing a song and he played it for me and it was amazing!” Not only can you really feel the meaningful and personal message in it, but the prominent piano adds a different instrument I’m not used to hearing from a Lagwagon tune. “In Your Wake” gives me a very Foo Fighters feel. Maybe it’s just how the lyrics are arranged, but I feel like Dave Grohl could be singing it if he wanted to start a punk side project. There is a lot of layering of the vocals and the song finishes in truly epic fashion. It’s one of my personal favorite tracks on the new album.
If you’re thinking about picking it up, here’s a hint: I doubt you’ll find it at your local record store but before you download it from iTunes, if you want to get more bang for your buck, check out Fat Wreck Chords. I’m old school and prefer a hard copy CD so by getting it from Fat, I get the mp3, CD and two bonus tracks called “Don’t Laugh at Me” and “Exit” for the same price.