American Steel's jagged words
In the world of underground rock, it's kind of disheartening how some bands get notice and respect after the fact, long after they've broken up and the members have moved on to other projects. Fortunately, for those of us who discovered American Steel too late, we're getting another shot to see them live, as the guys are reforming and going on tour with the roving spectacle that is the Lawrence Arms/Falcon/Sundowner tour (you better believe I have tickets, son).
The band broke up originally in 2002, in part due to the extreme negative backlash their new album, Jagged Thoughts, had received within the punk community. When the band formed in 1995 in the East Bay, they sounded like 'most every other East BAy punk band at the time - full-tilt ahead buzzsaw punk thrash with yelled, throaty vocals. 1999's Rogue's March was well-received too. It was still buzzsaw punk, but roots songcraft was peeking its head through the wail, and guitarist Ryan's battle with luekemia fueled the lyrics and gave it an emotional edge one didn't really kind in the political stronghold that is the East Bay scene.
However, 2001's Jagged Thoughts really pissed off a lot of stupid people, which is a damn shame. It's an incredible record. It's a forerunner to the distortion-free rock'n'roll/folk-punk that's all the rage these days with the kids (and me), and the songs are incredibly well-written. They sound like your favorite local band running though a set of Motown covers with new lyrics, especially on the jumpy, ultra-catchy "Lonely All the Time." The anthemic "Shrapnel" is still one of my favorite songs, and you can be sure that when I see them on stage, I'll be right up front singing every word at the top of my lungs. Every song sounds like it was put through the rigors to make it as good as possible. Even the bash'n'crash numbers like "Turn it Out" sound well-conceived and meticulous (in a good way). The record stands as one of the best punk albums of the 00's, and fortunately, most people are coming around to it. Here's hoping the boys are better received this time around.
New Religion Every Day: http://www.mediafire.com/?4m2de1w4nh1
Lonely All the Time: http://www.mediafire.com/?ciy10zlxoxb