Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Album Review: Hang by Lagwagon

I always find the skate punk band Lagwagon a bit interesting. Someone who would consider themselves a fan of punk but isn’t fully immersed in the scene probably hasn’t heard of them but the diehard punk rockers worship them. Here’s a fun fact for you. Did you know that Lagwagon’s debut album Duh was the third ever release by legendary independent records label Fat Wreck Chords and the first by a band that wasn’t NOFX. Since Duh was released in 1992 the band has released seven full length albums on the label, the last being 2005’s resolve. This month after a nine year wait Lagwagon FINALLY released a brand new album titled Hang. I checked it out.

Hang starts out in an interesting fashion with the acoustic track Burden Of Proof. Lead singer Joey Cape softly serenades the listener in this short song before the album bursts into life with the second track Reign. This is classic Lagwagon, played at 100mph but still carrying a fantastically bouncy melody. If you were to ever play someone a Lagwagon song to showcase the band at their best Reign is a great song to choose. Track three on the album, Made Of Broken Parts see’s more of a midtempo sound with a slight touch of metal added to the sound. It’s the sort of song that will ignite massive circle pits when played live. As is the following song The Cog In The Machine. The sound is dark here and the lyrical pacing is superb, allowing for some massive sing alongs. I love the lyric “He Thought He Had To Save The World, He Only Had To Stop Destroying It.”

Poison The Well is a song that whilst it’s the trademark Lagwagon sound that we all know and love feels slightly darker that previous efforts. The darker sound should not really be surprising though given the 2012 of passing of Joey Capes best friend and touring partner Tony Sly. Obsolete Absolute is one of the most surprising songs on Hang. At six minutes and eleven seconds long it’s pretty lengthy for a punk rock song. The long intro for the songs gives it a great sense of drama and anticipation before the Capers distinct vocals kick in. Drummer Dave Raun really puts in a great performance on this song with his rapid fire beat. Joey Cape’s ability as a vocalist is really show cased in the hard rock sounding Western Settlement. It stands out brilliantly over the crunching guitars Chris Flippin and Chris Rest. This instrumentation in this song is very akin to something the Foo Fighters might put out put the bouncy melody that Lagwagon are known for still remains. Burning Out In Style really stood out to me on my first listen of Hang. Cape immediately grabs your attention singing over a simple repetitive guitar chord and sings about giving up on your dreams and settling down with what is considered the “norm.” A fantastic track in the brilliant Lagwagon style.

One More Song is an emotional tribute to Tony Sly. With a piano intro and Cape’s voice brilliantly haunting during the intro before bursting into life as he sings about wishing he had more time with his best friend. A very fitting tribute to a legend in the punk rock scene. Drag see’s Lagwagon return to a darker punkier sound as they sing a song about the struggles of quitting an addiction. Capes lyrics are really insightful here “I Quit When I Was Thirty, I Quit When My Baby Girl Was Born, I Quit, I Can’t Afford Any Bills, New Year Farewells, The Drag On The Next One, Is Something I Can Look Forward, Something To Slow The Synapse, Something To Do With My Hands.” You know me slows the pace down again and get’s more serious. Serious kudos have to go to the guitars of Flippin and Rest again here as they play some fantastic harmonising riffs. Punk rock musicians often get thought of as only being able to play simple chord structures but these gentleman easily prove any doubters wrong on this track. The final song on hang is called In Your Wake. This song will have long time Lagwagon fans reminiscing about when skate punk blew up in the 90’s. In You Wake takes the listening on a bit of a roller coaster with the dynamic of the song constantly switching between tempo’s and slowly building towards a huge finale that will be “inside your head” for a long, long time.

Hang is definitely a grower of an album, maybe the first time you won’t really get it but after a few more spins you will fall in love with it. Every time I have listened to it I’ve found something else about it that I think is amazing. Something that struck me about Hang is that despite it being nine years since Lagwagon released an album there is still something very current about the release. It fits perfectly in Lagwagons excellent discography and the sound doesn’t fill dated in the slightest. I really do hope that I don’t have to wait another nine years for the follow up to Hang. If it is then we should saviour this fantastic release.

Now listening to Fuck Authority by Pennywise

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