Straightedge Hardcore. Aggressive, close-minded, macho. Just some of the words used to describe this fairly strictly conservative genre and ideals. To be fair, out of all cultures, Straightedge is the one that never even bothered looking for sympathy, so people cannot be blamed for describing it so negatively. Rarely does it get described as; fun, forward-thinking or melodic. But Casey Jones, despite still being very strictly proud of their lifestyles, may well have just turned people’s perceptions on what “Straightedge Hardcore is” here. This, their second album – although as on their first album they were still considered a side-project of Evergreen Terrace, this could be described as their debut proper – sees Casey Jones up the ante from their first album which saw them take their open-minded and sometimes even humorous opinions on straightedge and the matters surrounding it, but was still too generic to really make anyone take notice. Here though, they’ve come up with something really enjoyable.
One of the first thing’s you’ll notice when listening to this album is its production. On fantastic opener ‘1 out of 3 have an STD’ – which also straight away introduces Casey Jones’s humour in their music - it instantly distances itself from the current crop of macho, tough guy hardcore music by having a very high toned guitar sound rather than the bassy sustain filled guitar sounds of their peers, and makes this album feel very much like the original hardcore sounds of say; Minor Threat or Gorilla Biscuits. This highly defined production means every instrument is pretty much level, except for Josh James high-pitched throaty vocals which again, completely distances himself from the likes of Jamie Jasta of Hatebreed. And it is the production that very much gives this album it’s “edge” (ho, ho. That’s a pun by the way.)
But that’s not to say the songs themselves don’t stand up either. This is a fantastically pleasing Melodic Hardcore album smacked against normally aggressive music and values, and this mix is extremely refreshing to hear. ‘Medic’ for instance, epitomises everything this band are about; outlining the problems of American Youth and how to make things better, translated beautifully 40 seconds in when it goes to a dramatic drum and guitar break, before James’ emotionally powerful vocals return, screaming “But we must, push, for change!” and is one of the most moving moments of all heavy music that I know of.
And its moments and subtle things like this that put Casey Jones head and shoulders over their peers. No, it’s not going to be as influential or as powerful as Give up the Ghost or Modern Life is War, but as long as their continue to make honest, potent music, Casey Jones has a bright future ahead of them. You don’t have to agree with “The Message” but you cannot deny the power of this music.