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September 30, 2003

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STRIKE ANYWHERE [I]EXIT ENGLISH[/I] REVIEW

Ok, there's no hiding this - I love Strike Anywhere. I love their music, I love their style, I love their politics (hell, I even like their taste in cuisine). Ever since I heard their last album, Change is a Sound, I knew that Strike Anywhere was going to permanently etch a place for themselves in my CD rotation. Exit English lives up to all my lofty expectations. Without abandoning their signature sound and style, this album gets a little bit more musically inventive, while providing you with a new set of songs you'll be screaming with your every waking thought. The music will stay with you, too - this album wields a forcible energy, conveying the band's experience without sounding overproduced.

One thing that separates Strike Anywhere from the pack of political punk bands is a tinge of optimism hidden within their unforgiving criticism of our government and society. The pace of the album is as fast and furious as they are, but does not rely solely on speed to provide a sense of energy and urgency - the lyrics are intense and direct, as are the melodies, in both their fast and more moderately paced songs. "Infrared" is a great and catchy song that flirts with the poppier stuff out there (noting a little more singing than screaming) but overall the band's trademark sound is dominant. Worry not, I can pretty much guarantee that you won't be seeing this on MTV.

Early in the album we encounter a standout classic in "To the World." It seems a clear backlash against the flurry of "Proud to Be an American" bumper stickers out there. It hits at the truth that American lives are worth the same as Iraqi, French, or Afghani lives. I like the line, "I pledge allegiance to the world, nothing more nothing less than my humanity...under no nation will we ever be..." This album seems to me to have a more global outlook than their past work. Change is a Sound highlighted how the lives of American citizens can seem to be valued based on class or race. This work forces the listener to think not only outside the box, but also outside the continent. "Lights Go Out" again takes a look at the so-called war on terror - I can't even pick one line to quote for you here, since the whole song is so good - you'll just have to get the CD and hear it for yourselves.

Their global outlook still cries true at home in songs like "Aluminum Union" and "Modern Life." "In the Fingernails" looks at the class war, the battle between the "haves and have-nots" and makes you wonder how anyone could think tax cuts for the rich are a good idea (even the rich). Basically, if you know Strike Anywhere, you know what this CD offers - quality music and intelligent lyrics that is well worth your hard earned cash, and guarantees to piss you off (but hey, in a good way, man).

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