Lagwagon
Hang


4.0
excellent

Review

by StrizzMatik USER (16 Reviews)
October 28th, 2014 | 45 replies


Release Date: 10/28/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Not dead yet. Not even close.

Lagwagon, like many of their EpiFat contemporaries of the SoCal pop-punk explosion of the mid-late 90's, have been a hugely influential band of 25+ years that simply refuses to put out bad material. What's never certain, however, is the amount of time you'll have to wait to actually hear new material from a band who, like labelmates Dillinger Four and ex-labelmates Propagandhi, take their sweet time on getting new tunes out to the music world. For Lagwagon, the last LP was the emotionally-charged Resolve in 2005, a stripped-down dark record made in reaction to the suicide of former drummer Derrick Plourde, which resulted in a solid but simplified album that had moments of being undercooked in comparison to earlier albums. In 2008 the band tossed off the cleverly-titled I Think My Older Brother Used To Listen To Lagwagon EP (basically consisting of Joey Cape's solo material "Lagwagonized"), largely considered their weakest material to date and shortly followed by the departure of founding member and bassist Jesse Buglione, with Joey Cape calling the band's future into doubt in interviews. Bringing in friend and RKL alumni Joe Raposo to fill the vacant slot, Lagwagon then released a boxset remaster of their first five "golden period" albums (2011's Putting Music In It's Place) and toured in support, reigniting the creative spark of the band and beginning the process of what is now Hang, the band's most collaborative album yet, as well as the heaviest and darkest Lagwagon recording since Double Plaidinum.

Hang pulls absolutely no punches throughout most of its runtime, focusing largely on driving mid-paced muscular rock grooves, a dash of metal (Duh and Trashed come to mind), undulating and expansive basslines, a few new tricks, a handful of trademark hyperspeed barn-burners, and by far the meatiest, riffiest and dirtiest guitars out of the band to date. Just about every song has a big ol' Riff in there, punctuated by clever time changes, key shifts, more versatility in sound and their crispest, strongest production yet. Cape's comments in interviews that he let the band take on a lot more of the songwriting burden is evident in how Hang very much sounds like a cohesive, encompassing album with more purpose and sonic concept than any previous LP. Songs like "Made Of Broken Parts", "Poison In The Well", "Drag", "Western Settlements" and "The Cog In The Machine" all typify the record's sound, coming across almost like a darker, punkier Foo Fighters (if they actually put in effort). While midtempo is hardly new for Lagwagon, it's not a far shot to say that Hang is their slowest record yet, which might throw off fans who prefer the lightspeed d-beats they're known for. Thankfully just enough of those mosh moments on Hang exist to fill that adrenaline fix, and with the much heavier atmosphere and production the band sounds fresh and powerful instead of tired and bored like some moments on I Think My Older Brother EP and Resolve.

Despite the long gaps between recording, the band has never sounded better. Chris Rest and Flippin turn in their most varied and original performances yet, riffing all over the place and putting more emphasis on texture and interplay (thumbs up to the bluesy, greasy solo in "Poison In The Well", dat riff in "Cog", the change-ups in "Made Of Broken Parts", and all of "Obsolete Absolute", especially), locking in like long-lost puzzle pieces with fellow RKLers Joe Raposo and Dave Raun on bass and drums, respectively. Speaking of, Joe Raposo deserves a standing ovation for that bass. To say that he blows away Jesse Buglione in ability and advances their sound drastically in power and precision is a big, big understatement. His interplay with Raun's amazing stickwork and the riffier guitars is an integral part of the leaner, meaner Lagwagon on Hang, and when he takes the lead on "Obsolete Absolute" and "You Know Me" you can't help but be impressed.

Despite the modest shift in sound, this is most decidedly still a Lagwagon record with plenty of nostalgic callbacks to the band's best material. Joey Cape's weathered, instantly recognizable voice begins the album with an acoustic on "Burden Of Proof", bringing to mind classic openers like "Alien 8" or "Burn" in that it's probably the only truly quiet minute of the whole record, only for it to explode into the turbo-speed old-school-friendly "Reign", which joins "One More Song" and "Burning Out In Style" as the most upbeat tracks (at times) of Hang that sound the most like the upbeat, catchier Lagwagon of Hoss and Let's Talk About Feelings. Other than that, we're mostly getting the darker, riffier, aggressive Double Plaidinum/Resolve/Blaze/Trashed end of the spectrum, although this pays off far more than it fails. Cape's lyrics are more political and social-oriented than ever before, never getting preachy and coming across with his trademark poetic spin to fantastic effect, complementing the darker, harder music very well. "Obsolete Absolute" may be the grandest, most aggressive and monolithic song the band has written in its career, clocking in at nearly seven minutes and putting in more changes, sections, riffs, and tempos than any song the band has done before. With a two minute extended riff-out intro, spoken word sections, multiple verses, music/solo breaks (the Maidenesque dual solo just wins, and hard) and a breakneck frenzied pace, it's powerful, epic and fresh territory for a band this long in the game. Being somewhat reminiscent of songs like "Alison's Disease", "Eat Your Words" and "Owen Meaney" with its calculated build-up. Note to Lagwagon: write more songs like this.

Not to be outshone is "One More Song", a tribute to fallen friend Tony Sly (frontman of No Use For A Name and longtime collaborator) who passed away in 2012. With its hauntingly beautiful intro piano melody, emotional lyrics, and musical synthesis of Lagwagon's speedy skate punk and Bad Astronaut's somber, piano-driven midtempo stylings, it's new ground for Lagwagon and easily one of the best, most crushingly personal songs the band has written to date. Listening to it, it's not hard to tell that Joey Cape had real trouble singing those lyrics during recording, as it's some extremely heavy and cathartic stuff rivaling the soul-crushing "Sad Astronaut" intro from Resolve. Album closer "In Your Wake" goes through several rhythmic and dynamic changes, building up into what may be the most memorable closer the band have written to date and closing the album off in an delightfully unexpected explosive fashion.

If there's any real criticism of the album one could make, it's that at first listen the album can come across as a bit samey at times and decidedly less upbeat than prior releases, although that largely lies in the eye (ear") of the beholder as you could argue the band has never sounded more sure of itself, musically. A darker and more mid-tempo sound isn't particularly new for Lagwagon, but unlike before, this change feels much more deliberate, purposed and fleshed-out, a singular statement from a band who arguably has a career full of great song-collections instead of album albums. Hang kicks ass on all fronts, simply put. It's just consistently excellent throughout, never dipping below "really damn good". Nine years after their last record, it manages to retain everything about what people loved about the band and blend it all into one whole all while evolving in a fresher direction. Pretty damn good for a bunch of guys about to hit their fifties, at least.



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user ratings (106)
Chart.
3.9
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
fromrows
October 28th 2014


226 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Amazing review as usual and couldn`t agree more on your points Strizz! Nice to have Lagwagon back and firing on all cylinders!

Digging: Mogwai - Rave Tapes

Phlegm
October 28th 2014


7243 Comments


lmao is this album cover seriously from 2014

StrizzMatik
October 28th 2014


3698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Thanks man!

VaxXi
October 28th 2014


4394 Comments


I tried writing a review for this but was having a major hard time, but what you wrote completely suffices for how outstanding this album is. Have a pos

hahGAY
October 28th 2014


198 Comments


Really dig this album, picked it up today. I was skeptical at first because the single they released was really different for them, I actually laughed when the opening riff kicked in. But as a whole the album works and 'Cog' did grow on me. The 'metal' songs are my least favorite but I don't skip over them. The first two tracks are by far my favorites on the album, #1 reminds me of something that would be on Resolve. But this definitely will make my top 10 list of the year.

Crawl
October 28th 2014


2562 Comments


sweet glad to hear they still have it. gotta listen soon.

StrizzMatik
October 28th 2014


3698 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Didn't mention in the review, but the bonus tracks are cool too. Both covers are awesome

Atari
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2014


24372 Comments


very nice review pos'd. Lagwagon has always been solid and it's nice to see they have a NUFAN cover song in the bonus tracks. Seems like Joey Cape and Tony Sly were pretty close and i've still been meaning to check out the splits they did a while back.

Digging: Gorguts - Colored Sands

Willie
Moderator
October 30th 2014


17623 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

I'm really liking this. I was surprised after the EP and Resolve.

KriegdemKriege
October 30th 2014


1544 Comments


I had no idea this band was still making music.

gurudave
October 30th 2014


26 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Beautiful album. Has that great nostalgic lagwagon feel with a little maturity. Joey's voice is just so damn special! Burden of Proof/Reign and Obsolete Absolute absolute cracking songs but the whole album is tops.

Willie
Moderator
October 30th 2014


17623 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Now we need a Bad Astronaut album.

kris.
October 30th 2014


15029 Comments


wait, really?

Willie
Moderator
October 30th 2014


17623 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

I haven't heard anything about one. I'm just saying that we need one.

kris.
October 30th 2014


15029 Comments


no i meant these things:

wait, really? lagwagon still exists?

wait, really? lagwagon put out a new album?

wait, really? lagwagon put out a good album?

Willie
Moderator
October 30th 2014


17623 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8 | Sound Off

Oh. Well, yes to all those things.

kris.
October 30th 2014


15029 Comments


quelle surprise!!

gurudave
October 30th 2014


26 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

You're kidding right?

kris.
October 30th 2014


15029 Comments


why would i kid

Pajolero
October 31st 2014


1048 Comments


Somehow missed their entire catalogue, think this should serve as a good entry point.



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