Lagwagon: Resolve (Brandon "The Destroyer")
Lagwagon - Resolve
Brought to you by: Brandon "the Destroyer"
I sometimes wish that I had stumbled upon my love of punk music earlier in my life. In fact it would have been nice that the second that I started liking music and buying it regularly I would have diverted those efforts to punk. Instead it took me until I'd reached University before I really got into the genre, which means that all throughout my youth I missed several opportunities to listen to some punk bands that withstood the test of time and are still releasing albums today. Lagwagon is one of these bands. They were one of the first bands to sign on with Fat Wreck Chords and as a result part of the companies success has been based on these bands that were initially were signed by the label. This is the seventh studio album by Lagwagon however this one was inspired by the loss of their longtime friend and original drummer for the band, Derrick Ploude, who passed away earlier in the year. Some of the songs are a dedication to him but such a huge event in the life of this band would have me only expecting them to do a tribute or two. The saga of Lagwagon began a long time ago and I'm only getting to it now, from listening to the album three or four times now I have a feeling that Lagwagon is a band who's saga I might have to check out from the start.
One thing that I enjoy about Lagwagon is that with them you are getting some true punk, its not often on Fat Wreck Chords do I find a rather undesirable band. So Fat Wreck Chords are a company that I trust to sign good people onto the label, I mean over the years they have done well for themselves. Since there are hundreds of bands on the label I won't name them, but I'm sure at one point or another you've heard someone that is associate with Fat. The first song on the album is called "Virus", it starts with a nice little guitar grind on the way in and its combined with some good punk drums. When the vocals are used in this song it appears as if they layer it a bit, either they add another version of the lead singer over top of himself or it’s just a back up singer. In either case the effect is the same and its worth hearing, I am pretty sure that the virus they are talking about could have been the thing that killed Derrick Ploude, they talk about it being unjustified and they didn't have enough time. I mean nowhere in the song do they put it out there for you to see easily so its something you have to grab out of the air.
All of the song names I have noticed are pretty short, letting us know that for the most part the song itself can be entirely accounted for within the one word they choose to title it with. Bands like Millencolin and The Soviettes I find I am comparing Lagwagon to the most. Since those are two of my favourite punk bands I'd say it’s a safe assumption that I like Lagwagon quite a bit. The third song is "The Contortionist", which is a really sad song when you listen to the words in the song. Like I said the band wasn't very happy when they created the album after the loss of their friend, well from track to track you can tell that is weighing on them, especially in some of the lyrics. In this song I would think that they are referring to Ploude as this contortionist who was able to do incredible things (on drums and in general) but not only that they say something about leaving a child behind. So the sad story continues, but the music around it is still something I can enjoy and not feel guilty about. I do wish that the songs weren't such a drag on my day but I can't justify not listening to a good album just because it’s sad. I will just reserve it for when I'm in a depressed mood or something.
I would imagine that this album is musically different to regulars of Lagwagon but to me I have no basis of comparison. But I'm sure that a talented punk band would take into account their fans wouldn't be happy if it was all that different, so its probably just the sad version of their regular music. "Resolve" is the sixth song on the album and it is my second favourite song on the album. The drums are really freaking good on this track, it’s my favourite part anyways. The chorus is a catchy part, the vocals are good and they combine well with the starts and stops that the music is doing. The song itself isn't that long, just over two minutes, but Lagwagon doesn't have any particular parameters to the song length it would seem. They are kind of all over the place with only one song that is ultra short at one minute and twenty seconds. This song was only beat out by one other in the race for my favourite and that was the seventh track, "Rager".
"Rager" is the kind of track that should play every morning in place of my alarm. If this song came on I would be up at attention and halfway through a shower before it was over, which would be convenient considering the fact that mornings are the worst part of the day for me. Now this is the shortest song on the CD and typically they aren't the best songs but I can't help it with this one its just so fucking wicked. Its like one minute and twenty seconds of all the punk I wanted them to mash into that span, basically this is the type of stuff that I get when I hear someone like The Suicide Machines because they are non stop energy for the whole album. I know that the circumstances are different here so taking that into account doesn't change the fact the song is kick ass. The guitar riff is the sickest part of the song, it starts in almost faded in the background and its pure drums and then the bass and guitar come in and start to wail. Here’s where the guitar starts to get wicked, right on the transitions, its some twangy punk guitar but whatever its still pretty bad ass if you ask me.
The tenth song is called "Creepy" and it’s a short one too. This song is a bit more emotional than the other one, and contains a few more guitar interludes which let you get a feel for the style of the band. One thing I more or less overlooked throughout this review is the lead singers vocals, for a punk band that lasted this long I figured he would have a grittier voice or something, kind of like Tim Armstrong, but instead of that I get a rather talented singer. From track to track he has a lot of range and because the music is changing so often he adapts to that well, especially on this album which is obviously different from their run of the mill album. The best part of "Creepy" is that they seem to give the guitarist a bit of freedom to roam around when he is transistioning and whatever he plays there is sicke, the drums just kind of fill in the blanks on this one and the vocals are overall well done.
The only other thing that I want to mention is that the eleventh track (which is the second last track, not the last one) has a secret song attached to it, its called "Days Of New". Well I should say the whole song is called that and theres like a six minute gap before they chime in with the secret song. It starts with a nice little melody and soften spoken vocals by the lead singer. It starts all this arond the eight minute mark, this song is the saddest song on the whole disc. It's almost like they are trying to help guide their deceased friend into heaven at first, something like he should follow the sun to get there. Like I said this is the saddest part of the album, its really low key, nothing punk about it, in fact this is the type of song that I would think you could find on an Elliot Smith album....wait no its not that depressing. Its sad though, but one of those sad songs that could help you feel better about the person that you just lost, like it could assist you in moving on, which I imagine is part of the reason that it was written.
Tracks to Steal: "Rager", "Resolve", "Virus", "Creepy", "The Contortionist", "Automatic"
How did Lagwagon fair on my first experience with them?
Do sad albums make me sad?
Judgment Passed: 8.8 (This album is excellent, its almost like a band like Lagwagon was stunted into growing up and putting together this serious tribute to Derrick Ploude. I don't know that for certain though since I have no reference point for their earlier sound, I just assume that it wasn't this dark and upset with the loss of their drummer since he was still alive for the last album. There’s nothing wrong with this album I just found that sometimes it tugged on the ol' heartstrings and that doesn't sit great with me.)