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March 12, 2005

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Richmond, VA’s Strike Anywhere has been making a name for themselves in fast and furious ways for the past 5 years. They have criss-crossed the country countless times bringing their politically charged message to the masses. Choosing to embrace the spirit of bands like Black Flag and Fugazi over the pop punk goodness of Blink 182 and New Found Glory, Strike Anywhere is a band that makes you feel like every second of every song could be their last breath on this earth.

The band is quick to point out that these songs do not “stem from contractual obligations or consist of songs that weren’t good enough to be on a ?┬░┬╗real’ album.” The album is made up of 2 songs from a long out of print 7” originally released on Fat Wreck and the Chorus of One EP as well as some outtakes. The band ends To Live in Discontent with 3 cover songs (by Gorilla Biscuits, Cock Sparrer, and Dag Nasty), but that’s not to say that everything in between isn’t worthwhile as well.

The album’s shining moment comes right off the bat with “Asleep”. This is from the Fat Wreck 7” and is the first song the band ever wrote. It’s fast and furious and I could easily be convinced that the original band died at the end of its recording session. There’s something so incredibly urgent sounding about it that I almost feel bad that I’m still sitting at my computer when it finishes. It makes you feel like you should be doing something. The band comes close to recapturing the glory with “Two Fuses” and “Notes on Pulling Down the Sky” but they never quite make it to the level that “Asleep” ascends to. All the songs here are musically relentless and pretty raw. I’m impressed that the band has left the raw fury intact when they could have easily gone in and “touched” the songs up to make them more palatable.

Until I heard these songs I wouldn’t have called myself a Strike Anywhere fan. They certainly have my attention now. I think that the feelings of distrust, inequality, and anger that these songs capture so well are feelings that almost anyone can relate to on their own level. If you are like me then their politics may be a bit hard to get past but this certainly reminds us that we are much more alike than we are different.


Mark Fisher