Review: Have Nots, Serf City U.S.A.

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By BARRY THOMPSON  |  January 6, 2009
3.0 3.0 Stars

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Poverty sucks, but buying stuff is awesome, so I have mixed feelings about capitalism. However, the first proper record from local ska/punk darlings Have Nots has me reassessing. Food and shelter are dandy, but their scarcity helped inspire the bulk of worthwhile punk rock. So . . . hurray for poverty? Maybe not.

Have Nots are not psyched about poverty, other social injustices, and dudes who used to be punk-rock only to become clean-cut, complacent city-hall employees. None of this disgruntlement keeps them from creating exultant, frenetic ska/punk. Upstroke crazy verses, triumphantly downtrodden choruses, and perky lead-geet bits get the kids two-steppin' — as you might imagine, Serf City is a crusty dance party. Yet it's never sing-songy. The lyrics may teeter on verbosity, but the way Matt Pruitt and Jon Cauztik swap lead vocals offsets them with a conversational pathos.

Serf City's greatest failing, you could argue, is that if you like Operation Ivy, you'll certainly like this. But if you don't like Operation Ivy, well . . . shit, man, what's wrong with you?

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