Friday, September 29, 2006

Modern Man, or How I Became a 21-Century Digital Boy

I've been listening to Bad Religion a lot lately. I run hot and cold with this band, and here's why. When I like them, it's because they're fast and tight and the vocal harmonies soar like a squadron of leather-jacketed guardian angels. When I don't like them, it's because I get tired of Greg Graffin's humorless preaching. NOFX is pretty didactic, too, but At least Fat Mike is a smartass. A lot of the time, Greg Graffin's lyrics come across like a surgeon-general's warning--dire, informative, and kind of overbearing.

In any case, I think Against the Grain is their best record, and it's the one I've been listening to the most. Bad Religion are usually credited with extending L.A. punk rock long past its expiration date, and Against the Grain is a prime example of why. I bought it my junior year in high school ('94-'95), and I credit it for steering me away from bands like Bush. It's arguably the pinnacle of their career (bummer, since it came out sixteen years ago), not only because it features most of the original lineup (admittedly this is a dumb reason to like a record), but because the songs are universally good. Graffin's harmonies sound like a punk rock barber shop quartet. Mr. Bret's solos stick in your head like metastisized brain tumors.* The songs attack with the speed and precision of a team of ninja. It's intelligent, introspective and anthemic, without resorting to the chumpy bro-hymns of Pennywise.**

Following this album, the band signed with Atlantic. I listened to the first two of these albums while in college, and I didn't care for them at all. I missed out on the next two completely, and even when they went back to Epitaph, I've only had a casual interest in their most recent offerings. Though it's remarkable that they continue to churn out albums, I think there's little point in checking them out beyond this one. Okay--Generator is worth a listen, too, but for my money, I remain Against the Grain.

--The Robo-Pirate

*and I challenge everyone to find a more unpleasant simile.
**Imagine a bunch of Orange County frat guys yelling OHHHHHHH/OHHHH OHHHH OHHHHHHHHHH/OHHHHHHH OHHHH OHH OHH OHHHHHHHHHH along with this guy. That's a chumpy bro-hymn.+

+For the record, I love Pennywise.


ANDREW M. said...

this seems like as good a place as any: Hammer Films? hmmm... i'm not too well versed in them as i've just started watching a bunch as of late, but from what i've seen, "satanic rites of dracula" is one of the more "exciting" offerings in the world of hammer. seriously.

they're all pretty drama heavy and light on actual, um... horror (and gore,) but there's something about them that really brings out that little kid sense of suspended disbelief in you.

from what i've see, the early to mid 60s hammers flicks like "the evil of frankenstein" are more enjoyable than mid 70s offerings like SROD.

cushing as baron von frankenstein is amazing. evil of frankentstein is great too because you get to see A.) frankenstein's monster chug brandy to help soothe the pain in his head from a gunshot wound and B.) the monster falling down a bunch of stairs. too funny.

from my limited experince, the hammer films are quite big in terms of cheesiness, but a heck of a lot of fun too.

Robo-Pirate said...

That's what I figured. SROD has a certain appeal; guess I was not in the mood. Stephen King is a huge fan of these (inspired 'Salem's Lot a little bit). I'm headed to the Movie Trading Company tonight to get some new flicks, so I'll look for Evil of Frankenstein.

Eric Grubbs said...

Stranger Than Fiction is great, as is The Grey Race. New America and No Substance have some great tracks, but aren't great albums.

Just my two cents.