I Wanna Taranna Pt. 27: Sonic Boom #10 $2.99 Deal #3: Bad Religion – No Substance
I owned this years ago, but I think it got loaned out and never returned. Gah. I hate when that happens. Finding a replacement for $2.99 made me very very happy, as I sure do love me some Bad Religion.
What do we need to know about this that we don’t already know about Bad Religion’s literate, intelligent and straight-on (inimitable) punk rocking style? It’s their tenth studio album, from 2008, and their second since Brett Guerwitz had left the band. Expectations for it were high, coming as it did on the heels of classic albums Stranger Than Fiction and The Gray Race, but it didn’t do as well as those others. Silliness, I thought it was great!
Campino (Die Toten Hosen) appears on Raise Your Voice!, which was a single, as was The Biggest Killer In American History. The lady in the cover photo is Kristen Johnston, most famous for her role on TV’s 3rd Rock From the Sun.
Seriously, it’s Bad Religion. You know what you’re getting: their signature sound and a goddamn education. Pay attention to your world! Learn new things every day! Think about things for yourself, and never, ever give up. Go go GO!
The idea of adding images to this new series of posts was still bugging me. And after a couple of you mentioned that pictures would make it look cool and be helpful, and knowing how much work the rest of you put into your excellent pages, my little line about keeping it low-rent around here didn’t really hold much water. So, I tried again, but I could still not get the formatting correct to have the album art beside each album’s blurb. You’ve all done it on your own pages, you’re all savvy at this stuff, yet for some reason I cannot manage it. So let’s chalk it up to simply: I suck at it, somehow. I’m cool with that.
However, I did realize I could put a thumbnail gallery at the bottom of the page. Thus, images could be there and yet not distract from the text too much, and putting them in a line like that is zero formatting hassle so YAY! Click on any of the images and a little gallery pops up. Note, too, that the images are not always of consistent size or quality (though I did try). And because the KMA loves you, I did go back and add images for the other posts in this series.
The sharp-eyed among you will also note that I have added dates (in brackets) to all album titles on each of this year’s posts, too. Cool.
Let us know, in the comments, what you think of these two new developments!
Bad Religion – Recipe For Hate
Completely melodic and riveting, this is not exactly the fast and furious BR record we’re used to (maybe), but it’s catchy as hell and jam-packed with intelligent, clear-eyed lyrics. And all of those guitar riffs! This is a textbook for budding songwriters. Honestly, this is a must-have BR album. Even Eddie Vedder guests on American Jesus and Watch It Die (though it’s hard to tell it’s him). And Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde is on Struck A Nerve, an incredibly strong song on an album full of them. No one else sounds like these guys or does quite what they do, and it’s why we love them dearly.
17) Bad Religion – All Ages (1995)
Yes, this is a hits compilation containing songs from most of their first bunch of records from 1982-1992 (for whatever reason, not all of the records in this period are represented). And yes, it is freaking amazing, as you’d imagine a compilation of this band would be. But this is more than just a mind-blowing collections of songs – it’s also a celebration of one of punk’s most enduring, beloved and fucking brilliant bands. Aw hell, you knew this already. As you were!
18) Bad Religion – True North (2013)
I was fortunate to see this album’s tour when it hit Toronto (it was fucking awesome). At the show, I tried to buy this CD but the merch table didn’t have any CDs! What. Anyway, I got the disc in short order afterwards, and I love it. Every song here is a bomb going off, seriously, it is utterly satisfying. Fear not folks, this is further proof that these veterans are in full control of their considerable abilities, and writing memorable songs that are still tearing this dumb-ass world a new one. Freaking fantastic!
***NB: For this post, I have added poor quality cell phone pics that I took during this show as a ticket holder. If, for some legitimate legal reason, these are not allowed to be posted here, please leave a comment and prove to me why. I will immediately remove the photos for any legitimate claims. But please know that I am simply a fan, and a lover of music, and I just want to share a bit of my experience with others. I am not profiting by this at all.
Months ago, Wilf booked us tickets to see In Flames, in Guelph. But then his work schedule changed and he couldn’t do the gig. So he got us tickets to another show instead: BAD FUCKING RELIGION!!
Now, Wilf is a long-time fan, and has seen them live a bunch of times. He can speak knowledgeably about their records and different periods and members of the group. Me, I’d never seen them live before, but I’ve owned some of their records in the past and I appreciate their thought-provoking, kick-ass brand of punk rock. I’ve also read both of Greg Graffin’s books. I’m not nearly an afficianado, but they did write one of my favourite punk songs of all time – Do What You Want. Why that one? Because it’s silly, short, and it still hits home. Anyway.
But our day wasn’t just about this show. We left early, and got some always-great Moon Bean Cafe coffee in Kensington Market, then food on Bloor and, later, on Front Street. Mostly, though, Wilf was very tolerant about following me around record shops while I dug through the bins for treasures. I don’t get out much, so I was very lucky to have the opportunity. He didn’t buy anything, a completely foreign concept to me. I found a few, and could have bought many more.
But the meat and potatoes of this evening, of course, was the show. We met up with some of Wilf’s friends in the long line-up outside the Kool Haus and, with reasonable efficiency, we were ushered inside. I got frisked by a woman whom I kept thinking was talking to me but was actually talking into a microphone hidden on her person. It was a little creepy. This is the same venue where Craig and I saw Mastodon with Dillinger Escape Plan a year and a half ago and, WAY back in the day when it was called The Warehouse, my sister, my lovely wife and I saw the Black Crowes with a terrible opener band called Moke. Anyway.
It was at the point of going into the venue where I need to point out my one major complaint about the evening. I fully intended to buy Bad Religion’s new CD from their merch table. I’d had copies of it in my hand twice earlier in the day, in record shops, but I wanted to buy it at the show, to support the band. I stood in the crowd around the table, got to the front and… they weren’t even selling the CD! T-shirts and hoodies, yes. Posters and baby onesies, yes. But not their new album! WHAT?!?! Both opening acts were selling vinyls AND CDs, but not the main act? The dude working the table was pretty rude about it, too. It was all seriously bad form. I couldn’t believe it. [UPDATE 04-03: Amazon shipped me a copy of the record in less than 48 hours.]
The opening act last night, as printed on the ticket, was slated to be Against Me!, a band I know of, but I don’t know any songs. However, something happened and Against Me! would not be playing. Instead, we got The Polar Bear Club and The Bronx as opening acts. I did not know of either band, prior to this evening, but I’m up for anything. During and between sets, we drank vastly over-priced canned beer served by young, pretty bartenders in tight clothing. It’s a tough life.
The Polar Bear Club was decent (Wilf aptly called it “cookie-cutter”) pop-punk. They were competent, and looked to be having great fun. The lead singer had all the stage moves down pat, and REALLY liked to remind us that we were in Toronto (in case we’d forgotten). He did have one annoying habit, of yelling into the mike and then yanking it away from his mouth mid-note, causing ever part of a lyric to fade out needlessly. He must think it looks cool, but it didn’t sound very good. He also mentioned the honour of playing for Bad Religion and he really meant it.
Up next was The Bronx. They also seemed to be having fun and were thrilled to be opening for BR. It was obvious from both opening acts (and from the crowd) that that band ellicits a LOT of respect in punk circles. Cool. The Bronx were very good at what they do, which was straight-on punk rock, and the singer pretty much only knew one pitch – scream. Their set was longer, and the crowd seemed to dig them, so fair play to them.
And then the roadies unfurled a huge Bad Religion backdrop behind the stage during the stage set-up, and the mood shifted into high gear in the club. When BR took the stage, the place went nuts. If you’ve heard this band’s music, you’ll know exactly how they sounded when I say that their live show sounds just like the records – only much, much louder. They went from song to song very quickly and, as you can tell from the set list (below), they hammered their way through a ton of songs. They were having good fun, but don’t be fooled – this was also total professionalism learned over decades of playing shows. It’s probably a little weird, to them, to be elder statesmen now given how young they were when they started.
One of the coincidental perks, to me, was seeing this band on Easter Sunday. The irony! Singer Greg Graffin did mention it from the stage, but he didn’t make too much fuss about it. They played many songs I had heard before, and the songs from the new record fit into the set list easily. Wilf was thrilled that they played Anesthesia (Against The Grain is his favourite of their albums). And they played my favourite, Do What You Want, as well! I was well-pleased to see many people in the crowd singing along to all the words of every song, and there was much moshing and jumping about. People take this band very seriously and have a great time while they’re at it!
Every song was offered up with total control of the huge, fast sound and, thankfully, the thought-provoking lyrics were clearly understood. We were just to the right of the soundboard, and the sound in the venue was perfect. And even after all of that, it was over too soon and the lights came up.
We got out of Toronto in good time, and were forced to drive through heavily blowing snow for a good portion of the trip home. We pulled up at my front door at 3 a.m. exactly.
Thank you Wilf, for making this trip happen, and thank you, Bad Religion, for putting on an absolutely phenomenal show. I would go again, anytime.
Here’s the setlist (copied shamelessly from the BR Page):
1 Past Is Dead*
2 We’re Only Gonna Die
3 New Dark Ages
4 True North*
6 Generator (Festival Version)
7 I Want To Conquer The World
8 21st Century (Digital Boy)
10 Sinister Rouge
11 Fuck You*
12 Recipe For Hate
14 Robin Hood in Reverse*
16 Nothing to Dismay*
18 Do What You Want
19 No Direction
20 Beyond Electric Dreams
22 Come Join Us
23 Against The Grain
24 No Control
25 Changing Tide*
26 American Jesus
28 Fuck Armageddon…This is Hell
31 Dept. of False Hope*
Whew! 31 songs! 8 of which (*) constitute exactly half of the new album, True North.
It’s all been said a zillion times about how cool Bad Religion is, about how they’ve managed to glue together intelligent lyrics and their distinctive hardcore sound, about how a couple of them have university degrees and how they run Epitaph, blah blah blah. I’m not gonna repeat any of that here, at length. You know it all already anyway.
No, I’m just gonna say that this DVD kicks ass, and you should watch it. Why? Because of all the things you do today, watching this is likely gonna be what most makes you happy, most wakes you up, most re-boots your brain and shakes you out of your pathetic rut a little bit. And that, dear readers, is just about the highest praise, isn’t it? Hell yes.
The show itself is cool, the set-list is strong. It’s a bit disorienting to watch, because it’s footage pulled from a bunch of different shows played in Germany on the Suffer tour, so angles change and band members are constantly wearing different shirts (even within the same song), etc. It plays like an art school project from somebody lucky enough to have been to all of the shows. And that’s cool, just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The sound quality here is good, and they play a bunch of songs that you really need to hear again and again in your life. The interview segments are interesting, but they don’t really add anything by being mixed into the show. I might have put them all together, as a special feature (or at the end of the VHS, since this whole thing looks to have been copied straight off a tape, warnings and all).
Look, you know who Bad Religion are, and you know that this disc will kick your ass. It may even wake you up a little bit more in your life, and if that’s the case then their job has been successful. Watch this. Now.