by descendents1 USER (36 Reviews)
July 29th, 2011 | 15 replies

Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Professionals make it look easy.

Hoss is Lagwagon’s third full-length album, released in 1995. Between 1994 and 1998, Lagwagon released Trashed (’94), Hoss (’95), Double Plaidinum (’97), and Let’s Talk About Feelings (’98). During those 5 years, there was arguably no more talented, harder working punk band in existence. In their prime, Lagwagon aggressively toured and blazed a trail of melodic sympathy through the minds of punk enthusiasts. There was stiff competition from their successful contemporaries to capture the market share of homeless punk rockers. Green Day, Rancid, NOFX, and The Offspring each put out several quality albums during this time frame (collectively, these bands are uncommonly referred to as the Legion of Punk Bands with Clearly Recognizable Vocalists). Lagwagon understood the need for a polished sound before entering the studio and the importance of developing a global presence. By 1998, they were professional punk rockers, enjoying the luxury of only occasionally having beer bottles thrown at them while onstage.

But in 1995, there was still some growing up to do. Some of their weaker tracks took their albums down a notch in quality because of unsuccessful inside jokes told awkwardly over two minutes, only satisfying to their die-hard fan base. 'Namedropping' is an example of this unfortunate loss of lyrical continuity early in the album. The music was held to an increasingly high standard, and those lyrical wrinkles were all but ironed out by the time Hoss hit the dusty shelves of record stores (on cassette!).

I specify lyrical continuity because there is no musical continuity lost throughout Hoss. Lagwagon’s distinct instrumentation is consistent but a healthy progression from their previous release Trashed. The guitars keep a steady reminder of Lagwagon’s past –metal driven punk rock. Chris Flippin, who has been with Lagwagon since their inception (along with Joey Cape and Jesse Buglione–although Jesse recently quit in 2010 to spend more time with his son), plays guitar like its axe namesake. The metal influence is seen in the heavy breakdowns ('Bro Dependent', 'Sick', 'Black Eyes') while the listener is flooded with consistent distortion and the late drummer Derrick Plourde’s crash cymbal. Not to be lost in discussion are bassist Jesse Buglione’s riffs and licks. The emphasis on production quality in Lagwagon’s recording pays off for the bass playing. Too often, punk rock listeners find themselves thinking “ooh that sounded like the bass right there, cool.” Buglione’s bass is clear and enjoyable, distinct instrumentation that acts in a leadership role for parts of the album. It’s a reward to fans of quality bass playing and another component of Lagwagon that stresses professional execution.

Lagwagon frequently changes the pace of their music but it hardly catches the listener off guard. Their musical composition stresses a framework for frontman vocalist Joey Cape, who alternates between aggressive yells and a whiny intonation that is best in moderation ('Sleep', 'Ride the Snake'). When Cape brings a bite to his voice, it’s vigorous but nonthreatening, and it’s the preferred way to receive a vocalist who has struggled with high notes during his solo career. But emotive songs like 'Violins' and 'Bombs Away' gain that much more traction with Cape’s delivery, allowing the more hardcore punks to blamelessly indulge in their softer side while still rocking out.

Cape’s lyrical ability is agile. He consistently dabbles in metaphor and entire songs end up being conceptual trips. It brings back the “inside joke” element but he starts to let you in on the joke with his clever songwriting. His storytelling is relatable to young adults, but when carefully parsed, many of the songs achieve more than simple sympathy. 'Bombs Away' is a playbook description of a guy watching a girl mentally unfolding, in a sincere attempt to alert her to her own misgivings. It’s one of the best songs on Hoss, replete with well-placed transitions, a timely breakdown during the chorus, and a melodic arrangement that amplifies the lyrical strength. ‘Violins’ is a great example of the leap in creativity and mastery of song construction that helped Lagwagon shape their identity in the late ‘90s. It’s similar to ‘Bombs Away’ in musical arrangement, but deeper in emotional sensibility. It’s perhaps the most well-written Lagwagon track, and standing the test of time, it later appeared in an acoustic format to the delight of many fans (and even garnered some new fans).

It’s been about 16 years since the release of Hoss and Lagwagon is far from their prime and currently on hiatus. Digging through their catalog is still a worthy adventure. It’s irrelevant that Hoss may not be the best album Lagwagon released. Lagwagon embraced different styles and sentiments throughout their career and this was a period of successful transition. Hoss is one of the finest punk albums released in 1995 and a must-listen in Lagwagon’s worthy discography.

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user ratings (235)
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shark (5)
Lagwagons third studio release is an exceptional record in the crowded genre of melodic punk. Hoss i...

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 29th 2011


lol m/

July 29th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

I don't know enough to know how accurate this is but I love this band and I love this album. Great review POS.

July 30th 2011


Album Rating: 3.0

This is easily one of my favorite punk bands, but this album and the one after it are my least favorite albums by them. Good review.

April 28th 2012


Awesome album. Some songs were bland, but man, 'Name Dropping' just might be one of my favorite
Lagwagon songs. That chorus is amazing

October 7th 2019


Album Rating: 5.0

My number 3 album of all time.

Digging: The Muslims - Gentrifried Chicken

November 11th 2019


Album Rating: 5.0

"The 90s won't be back again until I'm 48 years old" lyrics on move the car.

Ha Joey is 52!

With all the great music out this year, it feels like the 90s are back.

October 9th 2020


Album Rating: 5.0

I am just another fool

And I have to keep telling myself

That I am just an hypocrite

And I have to keep calling you one

And I forgot to bite my tongue

As my assumption is the mother of all mistakes

So I assume the role

Open my mouth

And clumsy words escape

October 9th 2020


Album Rating: 5.0

So why you want to be there

When you could be here

You are slipping away

I awake with your replacement

A bottle in my grasp

In a unfamiliar place

Because you put me out

The butt of a sick joke

Into this ashtray life

As you come and go

Cause I forgot to service you

And we broke down

And you can't live with my mistakes

December 12th 2020


Album Rating: 5.0

If I say it again can I kill it

February 25th 2021


Album Rating: 4.5

This is so fucking good

February 25th 2021


There singer (Is it Joey??) got me on their guestlist even though I told him I didnt like Lagwagon and only wanted to watch the support but it was sold out. What a dude.

Digging: Qrixkuor - Poison Palinopsia

February 26th 2021


Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah it's Joey. He's a great guy, chatted with him a couple of times.

Did you have a smoke with the Caper?

February 26th 2021


Album Rating: 5.0

@pik this is my 3rd best album of all time. That's how good it is.

February 26th 2021


Nah I was SxE at the time hahah cant even remember who the other band was

February 27th 2021


Album Rating: 4.0

album is fantastic. wish it was more well known

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