This is an mp3 blog attempting to document the gross amount of music I listen to. About once a day, I'll post something I like. If you're a copyright holder on anything I host, get in touch, and we'll settle things in a steel cage instead of a courtroom.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Rock the 40 oz.!" - Choking Victim/Leftover Crack

As the band themselves are so fond of saying, from all the way in the back of the food stamp line, it's the good, the bad, and the leftover crack! I love Leftover Crack ridiculous amounts, even if I find some of their politics a little silly, extreme, and unaware of how the real world works once you leave the squat. I can't wait to see them on the 22nd, as they are touring America as part of the Cracktober Fest 2006 package. I'm thinking of going dressed as a cop (or at least in my "I [heart] Cops" t-shirt). If punk is about being different and fucking with peoples' perceptions within the context of the community, I'll be the punkest motherfucker there. Certainly moreso than some lame, smelly kid with liberty spikes and those moronic patches all over his clothes. If nothing else, drunk moshing is always a good idea.

The Leftover Crack story begins in 1993 and with a bunch of homeless punks living in a dump known as C-Squat. Singer/guitarist (and ska fanatic) Stza put together a trio to play his brand of withering political ska-punk. After putting out a couple 7" records (including "Squatta's Paradise" and "Crack Rocksteady"), they somehow managed to get signed to Hellcat Record, the then-fledging label being started up by Tim Armstrong, formerly of Operation Ivy and currently of Rancid. I guess was afraid Stza would beat him up if he didn't sign his band, so he gave them money to make a record. Choking Victim promptly broke up at the end of their first day in the recording studio, but they put down enough material to release the killer album No Gods, No Managers. It was a wicked 42-minute blast of ska shot through the eyes of a hard drug abusing punk squatter.

Of course, being broken up, the band didn't tour in support of the album. However, it was a minor hit within the punk community (keep in mind things are all relative here, kiddos). Meanwhile, Stza and his former bandmate Ezra Crack were already plotting their next move. Forming Leftover Crack in 2000 in the wake of Choking Victim's breakup, the group put out 7" that year called "Jesus Has a Place 4 Me (Rock the 40 oz.)," and then once again signed to Hellcat for their debut album. The resulting record ran into two big problems. The band wanted to call it Shoot the Kids At School, but the label resisted, forcing them to rename it. The band shot back with the sarcastic title Mediocre Generica as a shot at the label's demands. Finally, when the record did come out, it was released on September 11th, 2001. Immediately after 9-11, many political bands found themselves shut out of venues and decried in the media, making it hard to tour in support of it.

It's a shame, because it was a pretty good album, all things considered. Sure, there was a ton of ska (see "Gay Rude Boys Unite"), but it also showed Stza stretching himself slightly as a songwriter and arranger. The horn-laden bridge on "Nazi White Trash" is a perfect example, and the record as a whole betrays Stza's love of hardcore, thrash metal, and classical music.

After all their problems with Hellcat, the band signed to Jello Biafra's anything-goes label Alternative Tentacles for 2004's brilliant Fuck World Trade. Stza somehow managed to take all the music he loved (which, in addition to the above listed, now included folk music and death metal) and incorporate them in ways that made sense within the song. I hate it when songwriters try to show off their record collections by throwing in a bunch of musical styles for no real reason. That ain't the case here. At one point in "Life is Pain," it goes from uptempo ska to classical to death metal to punk in the course of about a minute, and it all makes perfect sense. Fuck World Trade is easily the band's masterpiece. They even manage a sad (albeit political) ballad called "Ya Can't Go Home," and "Rock the 40 oz." with its fiddles and thrash guitars, sounds better than ever. The ska-rap "Gang Control" is an instant classic, as is the melodic "Super Tuesday." From start to finish, it's an amazing record, one of the best of the 00's.

The band is working on a full-length split with Citizen Fish, which supposed to be out early next year. I, for one, and all a twitter to see where they're going to go from here. I'll let y'all know how the show was (if I manage not to get knifed by some pissed-off crust punk who doesn't like having his worldview challenged). ROCK THE 40 OZ.!


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