Context – procrastinating more than usual
Because it’s Friday, and this week has been long despite it being a 4 day week, and because I am shaved-belly ready for the weekend, I decided to up my adrenaline with some good old-fashioned new punk rawk*.
I had every intention of sticking with the “soft” rock theme I started yesterday by looking into Cold War Kids, but figured I wasn’t in the mood for that much exploration today. While browsing the land of YouTube, my history shows I at some point listened to The Flaming Lips’s Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002)–I don’t have much of a memory of this, but the YouTube history doesn’t lie (but if it does we have a whole host of problems waiting for us). How my brain went from Cold War Kids to The Flaming Lips to NOFX is well beyond my level of introspection, but there it went so here we are. Adrenaline galore!
And goddammit does it feel good to be back.
NOFX is another band I have a rich history of engagement with, at least up to a point. Somewhere around 2004 my then girlfriend burned me every NOFX album to date, which was a wonderful gift. I don’t remember much of them, but So Long and Thanks for the Shoes (1997), Punk in Drublic (1994), and White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean (1992) (I’m disappointed in the lack of serial comma, NOFX) remain in decent rotation in my standard average listening extravaganzas. I once saw NOFX play all of Punk in Drublic at RiotFest one year, and it was awesome.
First Ditch Effort is pretty comparable to So Long… upon my initial listen–the guitar sound doesn’t have as much bite or attack as I typically associate with punk music, but the drums keep that steady “dum-tsh-dum-tsh-dum, dum-dum-tsh” that tends to fall off most other punk (and their related genres) bands as they age. I don’t know why slowing down the drum-beat makes ex-rockers feel their music has matured, but they’re wrong and stupid for engaging in this dumb practice. Fast drums make punk punk. I mean there’s other stuff but you know what I mean.
If you don’t know what I mean, punk rawk is all about intentional misspellings and borderline comical attempts at playing basic chord progressions fast and with plenty of distortion. If you do know what I mean you know the previous sentence is mostly tongue-in-cheek. I guess those not in the know now also know this as well. It’s not my job to keep punk rawk elite.
The best part of First Ditch Effort is their staying away from their usual engagement with out-of-context reggae jams. I understand that punk and reggae have an intertwined history, especially from the English side of punk, but it’s really jarring to go from major-key speed metal to some slow jams and heavy bass. Rancid and The Clash manage to keep reggae elements in their punk music, but NOFX seems to like to go from one genre to the other without much smooth merger. This album skips that entirely in favor of moar punk rawk, which I find much more agreeable.
The closest thing to a downside to this album is when they get a bit overtly preachy, such as on “Oxy Moronic”, but other than that this album is A-. So I suppose taking the preachy tracks into consideration this is really closer to a solid B.