Monday, September 26, 2011

Swing Kids - 1998 Discography

Band : Swing Kids
Album : Discography
Release Year : 1998
Genre : Hardcore | Screamo | Emo Violence

Tracklist :
1. El Camino Car Crash
2. Line #1
3. Blue Note
4. Clean Shade of Dirty
5. Warsaw
6. Disease
7. Situation on Mars
8. Forty Three Seconds
9. Intro to Photography

Swing Kids would have to be one of the most highly influential bands of the 1990s. Consisting of Eric Allen, Jose Palafox, John Brady, and the brilliant Justin Pearson (also the founder and owner of Three One G records, where the band released their music) - this became one of the most important - and best, punk outfits from the '90s. This band was not only (alone) basically responsible for elevating the emoviolence scene to the punk public; they are also very important for the hardcore punk and art hardcore scene in the US.

They were influenced by fellow San Diegan hardcore bands Antioch Arrow and Drive Like Jehu, and also various other punk bands (especially Joy Division, which they - as you might have guessed from looking on the tracklist, cover on this album)). Their music is chaotic, angry and upset about something. So's the lyrics. And it ain't just chaotic, angry and upset - it's also very technically good. A broad sound, with highly creative guitar riffs, accompanied by fitting bass riffs and at times jazzy - at times fast and angry drumming makes the wall of sound that Justin Pearson either shouts passionately, or speaks eagerly over. The angry, confused and zealous poetry in the lyrics are bound to raise some hairs on your body.

Justin Pearson are by some considered an "Ian MacKaye of the '90s". Not without reason. There are quite a few similarities between Justin Pearson and Ian MacKaye.
They both started their own record labels. They both started out in lesser known bands ([b]Teen Idles{/b] & Struggle). They both played in more (commercially) known bands afterwards Fugazi & The Locust). It's also worth mentioning that they both have been vocalists and bassists in a lot of various bands. They are also both very important. And brilliant. Swing Kids are technically superior to many other contemporary punk bands. They make highly creative melodic and chaotic music. But still. They are characterized by Justin Pearson's beautiful voice of chaos. And not at least the amazingly well written words, that obviously are really upset about something. E.G. "Let the sucker burn. This sickening infection. The only thing melting in the melting pot is human flesh. Lies written in human blood. Lies." are the lyrics from the song "Disease".

This discography album consists of the band's self-titled 7" EP, the tracks from a split 10" EP (with Spanakorzo), and an unreleased track only available on this CD. It's just over twenty minutes long. Twenty wonderful minutes. There are only nine songs on this album, so you really get to absorb them properly. This album really digs into your brain, and stays there. If I were to compare it to other albums, the first ones that comes to mind are Everything Falls Apart by Hüsker Dü, the discography album by Minor Threat and perhaps the self-titled discography album by Rites of Spring - even though RoS is a bit slower than this madness, Justin Pearson kind of reminds of Guy Picciotti, passion and technical wise.

The songs are quite varied. It starts of hardcore with "El Camino Car Crash", and continues to get more and more aggressive - up until "Disease", which sounds more like free jazz than anything else. Well. The first one and a half minutes, at least. Still shows Palafox's ability to master the drums quite well. The songs that really stood out to me at first, were the mentioned "El Camino Car Crash" and "Disease", as well as the Joy Division cover "Warsaw" (it's from that song they got the Three One G name) and my personal favourite piece of chaotic rage - "Blue Note", where Justin screams "I'm sorry to say, but it's not over" quite a few times, and later on "Maybe it's because we're all so incomplete" a few times over Eric Allen's genius, atmospheric guitar play. Also "Forty Three Seconds" is quite a gem. Brady's bass line is extraordinary good, and never fails to fall in the trap of playing the exact same thing as Allen's guitar. Justin's lyrics and vocals are perhaps at their peak here as well. When he goes "Just another kid on the beat, yeah" - you know you're witnessing something big.

All in all, this collection of emoviolence is a essential to any emocore fan. I have failed to find a single dull moment on this album. It's definitely worth all the stars I'm giving it. You should probably buy this, if you are a fan of high quality punk music. It's got everything. Attitude ("El Camino Car Crash" and "Warsaw"), passion ("Line #1" and "Blue Note"), classy tunes ("Disease" and "Forty Three Seconds") and rage ("Situation on Mars", "Clean Shade of Dirty" and "Intro to Photography").
Everything. 'Tis a brilliant album. And I really, really recommend it to any punk fan. If you don't have this album in your collection - you're truly missing out on something big.
"It's time to stop singin', and start swingin'" with the Swing Kids and their discography. -Alexander Berntsen

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