Posted by: will | February 27, 2006

The Lawrence Arms…

BEST NEW MUSIC

The Lawrence Arms "Oh! Calcutta!" (Fat Wreck Chords)

The Lawrence Arms are one of my favorite current bands. I believe they are one of, if not the most relevant pop-punk band going today. 2003's The Greatest Story Ever Told was by far my album of the year. That album showed that you could still do something new and exciting within the often stale genre of pop-punk. While I loved all their older material, The Greatest Story Ever Told was such a leap forward for the band. It is always a difficult thing for a band to follow up such a great album. The boys give it their best shot on Oh! Calcutta!.

Oh! Calcutta! is a bit of a departure for the band. On past albums you had the songs split up between two vocalists. Bassist Brendan Kelly's gravely vocals would handle the faster more punk-oriented songs while guitarist Chris McCaughan's smooth vocals would handle the slower more melodic tunes. Songs would switch off between Brendan and Chris throughout the album and it made for quite a unique dynamic that most bands just don't seem to have. On Oh! Calcutta! you have Brendan and Chris joining together on vocals or performing dualing vocals on the majority of the songs. While taking away such a unique aspect from their repertoire might hinder a band of lesser talent, The Lawrence Arms never fail on this record. Oh! Calcutta! is simply a great punk rock record all the way through.

I like to call this style of music intelligent pop-punk. Punk is the main word to be remembered here because the hooks are beautifully hidden. The lyrics touch on personal topics such as drinking and depression while keeping a watchful eye on the scene, society and politics. On the folky album closer the band has the hypocrisy of the Warped Tour in its crosshairs with lines like, "These thieves in their flip-flops and bro attitudes are the very reason we do what we do/ When I say ‘fuck the man’/it’s what I believe/No matter who that man happens to be". This is what puts The Lawrence Arms ahead of the pack. They continue to make relevant music five albums into their career. While Oh! Calcutta! may not be my favorite Lawrence Arms record, it is by far the angriest and most cohesive record for the band.

RIYL: Jawbreaker, Dillinger Four, Alkaline Trio

Listen:

The Lawrence Arms – The Devil's Takin' Names (mp3)

The Lawrence Arms – Beyond The Embarassing Style (mp3)

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