Bound by Ties of Blood and Affection
Fat Wreck Chords
While at university I grew to admire a certain English professor for his unabashed honesty. While in his cramped, book-filled office, I asked him for advice about the next year’s course schedule. I was having difficulty choosing between a Shakespearean course offered by another well-respected professor and a course devoted to John Milton. His opinion was given swift and without reservation, “Shakespeare stinks! Leave him alone. Take Milton.” So I did. A few years later, sitting in the same office, I asked him if he actually ever read James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, a novel everyone apparently had read, but I was having extreme difficulty in getting through. “Fuck no!” He shocked me with his proclamation. “Half the professors in this department haven’t. It makes them feel smarter to say they have. The same can be said of Moby Dick.” I was stunned, but relieved. I immediately returned my copy of Finnegan’s Wake to the library and haven’t thought if it since. Until now.
Good Riddance is today’s Finnegan’s Wake: everyone claims to love them, but only a few actually listen to them. Now, unlike Joyce’s novel, Good Riddance deserves more.
Their most recent release, Bound by Ties of Blood and Affection, has earned them respectful glances and inquires, all the while making a profound statement. The political mascots featured on the album’s cover are surrounded by money while an elephant shoves away an eagle clutching a dove. Not too subtle.
The opening track, “Made to Be Broken,” is straight-ahead punk without unnecessary filler. Good Riddance even taps into the literati here. “More Depalma, Less Fellini” is based on “Here I Am” by writer Charles Bukowski, and it pounds with its sonic assault and lyrical sincerity.
Musically, Bound is a typical Good Riddance record: heavy guitars, throaty vocals, good production, thought-provoking lyrics and a few great hooks (“Saccharine” and “Boxing Day”). It does feel stale in places (“Black Bag Confidential”), but very rarely.