Review Summary: Lagwagons third studio release is an exceptional record in the crowded genre of melodic punk. Hoss is an engaging listen from beginning to end, featuring lots of energy, interesting breaks and, above all, incredibly catchy hooklines.
Lagwagons 1995 release Hoss is the last record featuring drummer Derrick Plourde, who would later commit suicide, a tragic incident which fueled Lagwagons 2005 release Resolve. Hoss, his last record with Lagwagon, quickly became a favourite in the punk scene and rightfully remains one until today.
The first half minute of the opening track "Kids don't like to share" provides a slow start to the album, but once it kicks into gear, it has every trademark of a great melodic punk song: Fast riffing, shifts in dynamic and a catchy melody which is delivered with style by Joey Cape. But the first real classic comes with the following "Violins", which might boast the best melody on the album. Combined with touching lovelorn lyrics, it makes for a great listening experience. Lyrics like "I awake with the old replacement / Bottle in my grasp / in an unfamiliar place" may actually be familiar to anyone who once tried to get over a break-up.
The breakneck punk pace and energy level of "Violins" is maintained throughout the album, with highlights popping up from time to time, like the spiteful "Bombs Away" with its halftime, quite anthemic chorus or "Move the car", which features very powerful riffing over a bouncy bass riff.
"Sleep" starts as a softer song, but quickly gains momentum through Joey Capes again outstanding delivery. A real revelation comes with "Sick" and its creepy, minor key melody. Another noteworthy track is "Black Eyes", where Derrick Plourde places interesting cymbal hits in the opening part and once again proves that his forceful drumming is a main factor for the sheer thrill this album provides. Until the end, Hoss remains an incredibly enjoyable album that has rightfully become a classic in a genre which is packed full with average material.