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Business As Usual | Abacus
January 16, 2007
RIGHTEOUS JAMS, BUSINESS AS USUAL
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There’s a reason the recent documentary
cuts off around 1986. The late ’80s were no golden age for hardcore punk: Ian MacKaye’s “straight edge” philosophy had been misconstrued as a defensive, militant worldview, and that left the music of suburban rage thuggish and sterile. But Boston’s own Righteous Jams know that straight edge, at its best, was/is a sort of fervid, puritanical party music. And singer Joey Contrada spends more time on self-improvement than on the malediction of hippies and hypocrites. “Ambitious I’m striving unaffected, focused I’m free,” he rasps on “Nothing Happens (Till It Happens),” sounding as if he’d been self-motivating the collagen out of his vocal cords since the band’s ’04 debut. What makes this album’s 10 burly rippers into actual jams is guitarist Elgin James’s willingness to flirt with foreign textures without breaching the bounds of hardcore good taste. On “Adams St.,” he summons a squall of knotty rhythms and glinting, near-metal leads over Contrada’s lament for lost certainty. With that track alone, Righteous Jams pick up the mantle of their late-’80s progenitors, turn it over, and mop the moshpit floor.
There was a time when it was easy to hate Geoff Farina. Well, maybe hate is too strong a word.
Punk rock had jetpacked the Minutemen into a synæsthetic sound world where ideas had the same value as chords, where Reagan’s policy in Central America could be related directly to the setting of your amp.
Fast and semi-coherent, like the music it documents, Paul Rachman’s American Hardcore , from the book by Steven Blush, uses an efficient equation: band members talking + flyer graphics + grainy clips from live shows. Watch the trailer for American Hardcore (QuickTime)
Evan Dando lives in a high-rise apartment building in Lower Manhattan whose rooftop patio affords an intimate view of the sprawling construction site where the World Trade Center once stood. The Lemonheads, "No Backbone" (mp3)
In 2003, Ben Potrykus, then a freshman at Emerson College and the singer of the post-hardcore band the Receiving End of Sirens, made a decision that most aspiring musicians would call crazy: he turned down a major-label record deal to stay in school. VIDEO: Behind the scenes with Christians and Lions Christians and Lions, "Sexton Under Glass" (mp3)
Two of a kind
Beat Awfuls founder Dave Vicini, who also co-leads Viva Viva, has a penchant for contradiction. Beat Awfuls, "DIY Die" (mp3)
Who brought the cool kid?
“For me, punk is the new idea, always the new idea, forever the new idea. That’s why punk can never die. Because as long as there are people, there will be new ideas.”
Ian MacKaye has set quite a model for how a punk rocker ought to grow up.
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