Strike Anywhere
Dead FM


3.0
good

Review

by Zesty Mordant USER (24 Reviews)
September 10th, 2006 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist


…Thus countercultural rebellion- rejecting the norms of mainstream society- came to serve as a source of considerable distinction. In a society that prizes individualism and despises conformity, being 'a rebel' becomes the new aspirational category. 'Dare to be different,' we are constantly told. In the ‘60s, becoming a beat or a hippie was a way of showing that you were not one of the squares or the suits. In the ‘80s, dressing like a punk or a goth was a way of showing that you were not one of the preppies or the yuppies. It was a way of visibly demonstrating one’s rejection of mainstream society, but it was also a tacit affirmation of one’s own superiority. It was a way of telegraphing the message that 'I, unlike you, have not been fooled by the system. I am not a mindless cog.'

The problem, of course, is that not everyone can be a rebel, for the same reason that not everyone can have class and not everyone can have good taste. If everyone joins the counterculture, then the counterculture simply becomes the culture. Then the rebel has to invent a new counterculture, in order to reestablish distinction.


-Joseph Heath & Andrew Potter, from The Rebel Sell: Why the Culture Can’t be Jammed

That’s right, the revolution will be televised. Sorry Mr. Heron. You will be able to see it on your iPod via podcast. You can TiVo it just in case you won’t be home in time to catch it. You can wait a day and download it for free off of YouTube. You can see it on a boat. You can see with a goat (and quite possibly with green eggs and ham if you like).

Bluntly put, the current paradigm of counterculture (broadly speaking the anti-globalization, anti-Bush, pro-animal rights movement) has begun to no longer become the “underground” that it has always hoped for. Michael Moore films reel in big dollars at the box office. Anarcho-syndicalists like Noam Chomsky and Naomi Klein are frequented on the best-seller lists. Go to any magazine stand and you can pick up a copy of Adbusters, today’s premiere “subversive” publication. Simply put, the “new black” is the one in which you can cut a star out of and place it over a red flag. Irony aside, this is not good for punk music.

Poor Strike Anywhere. The Richmond, Virginia quintet’s brand new release Dead FM is loud and catchy and angry and all those wonderful things, but in light of what I’ve just stated above, subversive it is not. It constantly impounds that belief into the listener’s conscience, as nearly each track takes some sort of stand with the status quo and instituting key words and phrases amidst the lyrics like “exploited”, “choking”, “take back”, “release us”, and the always popular “fuck you”.

As if it wasn’t obvious enough, Strike Anywhere would like for you to know their opinions on the world today, and that they, specifically, are against the system in pretty much every way. Strike Anywhere would also like you to know that they (according to the liner notes) use Pro-Mark Drumsticks, SJC Drums, SiT Strings, and Seymour-Duncan Pickups. You can also find their songs on various Tony Hawk video games.
Despite all this Dead FM is about the songs tje,se;ves and in this manner, Strike Anywhere have (ironically, again) perfected the ideal cookie-cutter melodic hardcore album for today’s comrade on the go. All the songs and issues are here:

Song rallying against religion? Check. (How to Pray)

Song decrying pop culture? Check. (Dead Hours)

Liner notes explaining the “inspiration” for said songs, devolving into mini-apolitical rants? Double check.

Bleak colour scheme and graphics of tanks, political demonstrations, and decimated buildings on CD artwork? Oh boy howdy, you bet.

But of course, I’m being hard on the band. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no war-mongering redneck conservative as I’m mostly to the left of centre on the majority of issues, but, as I’ve ranted above, Strike Anywhere take their agenda almost a little gratuitously. Its unfortunate in this sense as their 2001 effort Change is a Sound was a tight-knit package of explosive rage and raw, catchy punk. Songs like “Sunset on 32nd” and “Chalk Line” caught my attention like a protestor with a stolen police megaphone. But what happened since? Was it the move to Fat Wreck records from Jade Tree? The growing frustration to deal with their growing popularity, prompting a more “political” record? Or it simply just me, realizing that it has Strike Anywhere seem, well, kind of bland in relation to their contemporaries? They don’t got the musical chops like Propagandhi. They don’t have the selfless charm and humour (not to mention stage presence) of Nofx. Vocalist Thomas Barnett doesn’t have the vocal range and prowess of Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath. So seriously, what the fuck good are Strike Anywhere?

Well, if you’re Canadian you may know about Steelback Lager, the beer so cheap it comes in plastic bottles, and their slogan: “It is what it is”. Aesthetically, Dead FM for all intents and purposes, is like a great cheap beer, the kind that satisfies your most primal needs. Stike Anywhere "is what it is".

The album opener, Sedition breaks through with Barnett’s signature raspy scream and is certainly one of the more lyrically stronger and arguably more politically realistic tracks throughout the album’s course, as the singer details the calamity of the military-industrial complex, citing his grandfather’s participation in the Manhattan Project and referencing the 1984 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal, India.

The lyrics on the album haven’t been as poignant or as memorable as their past releases, particularly as a result of Strike Anywhere’s indulgence in the assurances of the counterculture, but the best tracks are the ones in which the hardline political rhetoric is loosened to make way for a broader and more introspective scope. Instinct in this sense is quite possibly the best song on the album as it underpins the dark realities of domestic abuse and nostalgic lost years of suburban teenage life. With its slow and melodic intro, the song quickly picks up into high gear amidst a thunderous harmony of interwoven guitars and primal rhythms. Hollywood Cemetery and Ballad of Bloody Run are similar in this aspect as it reveals the personal disappoints of fallen heroes and simple punk culture (um, like back in the days of Crass). The latter even has a bouncy, almost folksy edge to it that, up to this point, has been unheard of in a Strike Anywhere song.

Musically, one may draw the parallels and find it odd that Strike Anywhere with their reliance on catchy melodies, shout-along gang vocals, and gracious but effective use of simply bashing out on major key chords makes them the new pedigree of arena rock, albeit with a punk edge. Though this more of a blessing than a curse as it more than makes up for the lyrical humdrums that Dead FM presents. Guitarists, Matt Smith and Matt Sherwood, haven’t really strayed too much away from their effective formula seen on past albums and continue to work their stuff. Much of the guitarwork on this album is a tightly interwoven melange of machine gun melodies, searing riffage, and obtuse picking, with both guitarists spiraling in and out of each other’s parts and creating a seamless barrage of sound that works wonderfully with the tight rhythm section continually provided throughout. Prisoner Echoes and Speak to Our Empty Pockets are prime examples of this.

Elsewhere, Strike Anywhere is capable of simply achieving spectacular bursts of energy in the form of song, despite the heavy politics. Iron Trees is the fastest and the most vicious song on the album in this respect, tearing through one’s headphones like rubber bullets through a peace sign. Gunpowder meanwhile, prides itself in some solidly fast momentum, that can produce a cyclone from a punk circle.

But all in all, its hard to separate the music from the message and it remains that Dead FM’s fatal flaw is the over-reliance on simplistic countercultural lyrics and ideas. Where Change is a Sound and even Exit English provided some great imagery and more concise and abstract concepts, Strike Anywhere opts to hit the listen with the hard stuff, and with greater magnitude.

In this manner, it reminds me of the Cold War, when a major facet (and subsequently criticism) of Western realist theory in global politics was that its dominance among society caused to become a packaged and easily consumable set of opinions and beliefs. Domineering conservative-style notions of how to deal with “dem Godless Cossacks” did not permit any new modes of thought and some political theorists since then have argued that it was a major factor in prolonging the 45-year crisis. Arguably, Strike Anywhere seem to be in the same boat as the counterculture is falling victim to the same fate of streamlining ideals and rhetoric that fall under “fuck authority”.

But who knows, maybe like cheap beer, Strike Anywhere may ripen with age. Wait, beer doesn’t do that. Goddamit, nevermind.

Final rating: 3/5

Recommended Tracks:
“Sedition”
“Instinct”
“Speak to Out Empty Pockets”
“Iron Trees”
“Ballad of Bloody Run”



Recent reviews by this author
J Dilla The ShiningGhostface Killah Fishscale
DJ Shadow The OutsiderJohnny Cash At Folsom Prison
Drive-by Truckers Southern Rock OperaStreetlight Manifesto Keasbey Nights
user ratings (124)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
(3.5)
With Strike Anywhere's ability to tackle a variety of subjects, the war cry of 'punk is dead' seems ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Tyler
Emeritus
September 10th 2006


7926 Comments



Well, if you’re Canadian you may know about Steelback Lager, the beer so cheap it comes in plastic bottles, and their slogan: “It is what it is”. Aesthetically, Dead FM for all intents and purposes, is like a great cheap beer, the kind that satisfies your most primal needs.


I liked that bit, quite a bit. The intro is formatted weird, with random varying quotes and whatnot. Great review, but these guys and their lyrics always sort of bothered me.

Zesty Mordant
September 10th 2006


1196 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, I tried to fix the coding a bit but that quote in the very first sentence seems to be unfortunately perma-fucked.

Intransit
September 10th 2006


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review, but from what Ive heard off of this album, its better than a 3. good job nonetheless, I agree about the cookie cutter non conformity thing, its just I dont bother to pay attention to it when they make as kickass music as they generally do.

Pete
September 11th 2006


189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Dammit, I was gonna review this, and make it a lenghty review too. But meh, I'll just state that I think it's awesome and leave it at that.

Good review, even if I don't always agree.

manton
September 11th 2006


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If you don't like this, you don't like punk rock.

Intransit
September 11th 2006


2797 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[quote=manton]If you don't like this, you don't like punk rock.
[/quote]
uh...

Zebra
Moderator
September 11th 2006


2647 Comments


Brilliant review.

Zesty Mordant
September 11th 2006


1196 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0


If you don't like this, you don't like punk rock.

If you make comments like this, then you don't shit about punk rock.

manton
September 11th 2006


6 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Whatever. I know that I like my punk fast, melodic, and insightful; all of which Dead FM brings to the table.

smokersdieyounger
September 12th 2006


672 Comments


I like my music to teach me something, get me excited and relate to my own life...

..raise your standards manton!This Message Edited On 09.12.06

StrizzMatik
September 12th 2006


3189 Comments


Whatever. I know that I like my punk fast, melodic, and insightful


ORLY? Then go listen to Propagandhi, Dead Kennedys, NOFX, or Good Riddance... they're a lot better. Strike Anywhere have always been the poor man's Good Riddance anyways.

Pete
September 12th 2006


189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh, shut the hell up, that's just bullsh!t. Just to pull examples out of my bum, Strike Anywhere would never write a song like "Jeanie", or lyrics like the ones to "Always". They have entirely different styles. Now, I like Good Riddance a lot, but they're a poor man's Lifetime, and Strike Anywhere are a lot better than both of the aforementioned.

StrizzMatik
September 12th 2006


3189 Comments


Hahahaha, no. Strike Anywhere was never THAT great to begin with. Their musical and lyrical style has been played by different bands since, oh I dunno... 1981. They're not pioneering sh*t kid, you just don't know your sh*t. Good Riddance has been around since 1986, Lifetime since 1990 and Strike Anywhere in 1999. Not to mention GR are direct influences on said bands, musically... lyrically they're a bit different. But the shouted melodic hardcore thing has been around for a long time. And the assertion that Strike Anywhere are better than Lifetime? Or even GR, two bands that pretty much created the melodic hardcore sound of today? F*cking laughable! :lol:

And it'll be a great day when Strike Anywhere put out anything remotely as classic or as influential as GR's Comprehensive Guide To Moderne Rebellion. SA can't even touch Lifetime's b-sides... you're just a fanboy that doesn't like differing opinions.

Pete
September 13th 2006


189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I'm a kid because I'm what, 8 months younger than you? And I'm just a fanboy who doesn't like differing opinions? Cool, cool, I guess you know me as well as anyone. Strange, I don't recall talking to you before, but sure. You must be right. I just thought I shared my opinion, but whatever.

I never said anything about pioneering anything, and I wasn't comparing what year bands came around in. To me, Lifetime plays the same style of melodic hardcore as Good Riddance, and they do it better. SA are original enough for me not to draw the comparison you did in your initial post. But I guess I can't argue with your notion that whoever came around first and laid the foundation for something must be the best at it, I won't bother.

Wait, did I just defend my opinion? Does... does this mean I should call you a raging fanboy now? :confused:


You're also cool for laughing at me.

pogostick11
September 15th 2006


63 Comments


You guys are making a never-ending argument. Good Riddance, Strike Anywhere, and Lifetime are good bands and everyone has the right to their own opinion.

Punk is about being unique, but as the review notes, the mainstream is changing and the punk community has to change because of it. Punk also has to deal with questioning the normal, thinking differently than other people. Having your own set of ideas and being yourself should be the defining qualities in a punk. One way to be different than the majority is to be an intellectual and able to think for yourself.

I believe Bad Religion has redefined what punk is. Greg Graffin wrote an essay on it. Even if you don't like BR, you should still read the definition of punk, written by a singer that has been a punk for over 25 years. http://www.badreligion.com/news/essays.php?id=5

morrissey
Moderator
September 17th 2006


1688 Comments


This is such a good review Zesty, excellent work.

I'm not really a fan of punk and I've only heard a few songs off this album. I don't have much comparative experience to say if it is good or bad but I can say I don't plan on delving further into their catalogue.

Pete
September 17th 2006


189 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well, then again, you listen to kinda gay music, Mandy

tinathefatlard
August 14th 2007


1597 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

If you don't like this, you don't like punk rock.


hahaha this is just like Converge fanboys saying that if you don't like Jane Doe then you don't like music in general.This Message Edited On 08.14.07This Message Edited On 08.14.07

Toketheturtle
September 10th 2007


1 Comments


Man you are out of your fucking mind. As a fan of Strike Anywhere and everything they stand for, by all means say what you want.

But I love Strike Anywhere. Thomas voice is an awesome one, yeah he may not have the biggest range, but his voice is great raspy and he can be loud. His ability to sing, then jump into an intense scream, I'm all for it. Thats one thing that drew me to band s like Rise Against.
As far as filling the run of the mill political angst bands, even mentions rise against is going to bring up some questions.
First off, who signed to dreamworks? Rise against major success is due to the political unrest that lies in America at the moment. Theres no doubt in my mind of how good of a band they are, but to say they haven't rode the recent political wave would be bullshit.

And being anti-bush anti-globalization isn't meant to be underground. The whole idea is to spread the message that we are being handed a raw fucking deal, and its not just us, our fathers, our grandfathers, and all who have come before us. And its more than just us, its about the oppression of all people throughout time.

I have the anti-fascist tattooed on my arm with the lyrics "brothers in spirit, sisters in rage"
So the band means something to me, and I think giving them the label of just some run of the mill band following a cliche is just wrong.

My advice is to buy this, its a good album.

p.s. So is it wrong to sing about something specific like gay rights, womens rights. Yeah its not masked with some bullshit, its in your face, plain and simple. They don't send their message lightly.
This Message Edited On 09.09.07

PhoenixRising
October 8th 2007


277 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I love it when people join the site just for one rant on a band that they love.

Great band though and a good album too.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy