LABEL: FAT WRECK RECORDS
WORDS: JO COSGROVE
The 90s brought out the best in California. Many world famous punk acts such as Green Day and The Offspring found their fame in this decade; rising higher and higher, gaining more fans, and signing to major labels. These bands are known for their consistent work and worldwide recognition; however, never forget the one band who never reached these milestones but are still killing it in the scene: Lagwagon. A band that thrives on sporadic releases and sticking to what they know, they also rose to fame in the California scene in the 90s but never made it to the same ranks as other bands. Through hiatuses and line-up changes, Lagwagon have survived nearly thirty years in the ever-changing punk scene and always stayed as humble as ever. So with ‘Railer‘, are the band still pleasing the crowds the same way? Let’s see.
An undying sound of the underground is used in one of the record’s singles, ‘Surviving California’. It’s almost become retro as it fades back into popularity among a section of the punk crowd; those who grew up with it and those who are growing up learning about it. The track uses exciting guitar riffs that reach its peak with an outstanding solo partway through. It breaks up the track, keeping life flowing in the music in a fun way.
“A band that thrives on sporadic releases and sticking to what they know”
‘Surviving California’ doesn’t contain anything new or innovative, but maybe that’s what makes it sound so fitting from Lagwagon. Thirty years of perfecting what works for them while other acts change and adapt to the newest trends and blends within the genre. There’s something reassuring about bands who can never go off the rails and stay their course, keeping close to their roots, and never suffering from growing stale or tired in their journey.
On the other end of this spectrum, the band are able to mellow their sound down to accentuate emotion and feeling. Punk is about filling sound with feeling and Lagwagon are showing they have worked at bringing this to reality with songs such as ‘The Suffering’ – a more than fitting title for a heart-wrencher. But don’t be fooled, it doesn’t stay soft and sweet for long! After building up this melancholic atmosphere with a spoken-word intro about passion and pain within humanity, it comes back hard and transforms into a rough, loud anthem.
“‘Railer‘ shows that Lagwagon can take all the time they need and will come out with something that’s truly authentic and personal”
The key to alternative sounds is to bring in that depth and personal element. Hype up that emotion, whether its positivity or negativity, and make it relatable for the audience that’ll most likely turn to it when feeling that way themselves. With tracks like ‘The Suffering’, which are built on a mix of pain, anger and fear, it pours out quickly through fast-tempo percussion, powerful riffs and even the addition of vocal harmonies that have potential to set hearts on fire.
A satisfactory piece of work, ‘Railer‘ shows that Lagwagon can take all the time they need and will come out with something that’s truly authentic and personal to them, rather than any chance of them working faster than they’re prepared to and working just for the sake of putting music out. Again, not a band that focuses on world fame; but instead focuses on what’s right for them and what works for them.