Strike Anywhere is arguably one of the most important bands in punk/hardcore in recent years. Despite the mildly lackluster Exit English album, Chorus Of One on No Idea/Red Leader and Change Is A Sound on Jade Tree remain incredibly solid releases. Before I had ever even heard them, I saw them opening for the Bouncing Souls about a year and a half ago and was truly blown away by the energy/chemistry/etc. that they had on stage (blah, blah, blah).
I was kind of mystified by this compilation of rarities and B-sides, especially since it includes every song from Chorus Of One, which isn’t even out of print. It seemed like kind of a stretch to release this, especially considering they had to record three covers to make this reach full-album length. Politics aside though, this is a good record.
If you’ve heard Strike Anywhere’s older songs before they appeared here, you’ll know how rough many of them sound. Thomas’ vocals sounded tinny and pubescent and the recording in general kind of sucked. Many of the songs here very much leap out of the stereo, however. Take the third song, "Chorus Of One." As the opening salvo of "TO LIVE IN DISCONTENT" sounded, I went, "Daaaaamn boi." The mixing still isn’t great per se, as the drums have way too much treble usually and the vocals on "Sunspotting" are pretty soft, but it’s still a huge improvement. Some of the other songs – see "Notes on Pulling the Sky Down" and "Earthbound" – sound virtually the same as on the original release, where they actually sounded pretty decent. The songs themselves are very fucking solid. Personal favorites are "Notes On Pulling The Sky Down," "Cassandratic Equation," "Earthbound," "Asleep," and "Two Fuses." "Two Fuses" was actually an outtake from the Exit English sessions, which is surprising, as it’s infinitely better than 3/4 of the songs on that CD.
The covers are…covers. "Two Sides" by the Gorilla Biscuits, "Values Here" by Dag Nasty, and "Where Are They Now" by Cocksparrer round off the last three tracks on the album. Strike Anywhere does them well. I’ve never gotten into Cocksparrer, but the other two are solid, slightly sped up but note-for-note covers of the originals, Strike Anywhere-style.
If you’ve never heard Strike Anywhere, I recommend picking up the Change Is A Sound album before anything else. But if you’re already into them and haven’t heard their older stuff, you’ll dig this. Apart from the covers and "Two Fuses," there are really no surprises here (most of the older versions of these songs have been available on major filesharing networks for years), but these revamped versions sound very nice and this is overall a very solid CD.