Fat Wreck Chords
Radio died years ago. With the corporate takeover of the airwaves, a conglomerate of bottom-feeders have seized control of what gets played, what the majority listens to and buys, and so we have the sanitized result of “popular music.”
Is this what Strike Anywhere had in mind when they called their first full-length release in 3 years Dead FM? “Take Back Everything They Steal” screams the inside cover. Though it can be applied to the censored airwaves, the quote — as well as much of the lyrical content penned by perhaps the most eloquent and politically-informed songwriter of the pop-punk school of 2000+, Thomas Barnett, is in reference to the long oppressive arm of Government as a whole. “Know Your Rights” he screams, borrowing a well-loved lyric from masters, The Clash, at the end of “Iron Trees.”
Green Day’s American Idiot was a well-oiled masterpiece made by a pop-punk bunch of Cali kids who crawled their way onto the top of the charts by rounding the edges of the sound to appeal to the masses without compromising their message. Dead FM does much the same thing. The words of Barnett are that of a young man who reads his Zinn and his Chomsky, but who chooses to simplify his thoughts through power chords and choruses as catchy as a flu virus in the dead of winter.
For several of the 14 tracks, in the liner notes appear a short explanation of the song’s meaning — an in-case-you-missed it. The disc’s opener, “Sedition” is about Barnett’s welder Grandfather who unknowingly aided in the Manhattan Project, and, therefore, the developing of nuclear weaponry. “Allies” is a song dedicated to “our friends, comrades and family in the gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, and transsexual communities.” And “House Arrest” chronicles the band’s 2003 arrest in Japan, an incident during which they were wrongfully incarcerated.
The album as a whole is as perfect a record of its genre as you will stumble upon, and the song “Prisoner Echoes” is “American Idiot” just less polished. One listen and you’ll be humming its tune for days.
Strike Anywhere: www.strikeanywhere.org