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March 3, 2004

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So let me get it out of the way…


There, I said it. Everyone is going to point it out, so I figure I should too… 2/3’s of Challenger is Dave Laney and Al Burian of Milemarker. But don’t think that little fact will play that largely into the sound of this band.

“…lately I’ve started going back and listening to Husker Du and the Minutemen.” That quote from Dave pretty much sums up the album. The trio (filled out by drummer Timothy Remis) play a version of the power pop punk of bands of old. I say “version” because it’s not as raw as what you remember. There is a certain amount of polish on this album, not to a fault, but it is there. The rough edges are there, but they are hidden under the production abilities of A.J. Mogis (who’s worked with The Faint and Cursive).

The hooks are wrapped with flypaper. Noisy guitars churn out power chord after power chord laden track. Each song pumps along in its own anthem/gang vocal glory. The deeper you get into the record the more you want to catch them live. It makes me feel 18 again… and not in an awkward, unsure way, but in a carefree and rebellious way.

To be honest, I wonder if a lot of the young scene today is going to get into this much. Maybe it’s the pessimist in me, but I just wonder if the high-energy punk of bands like Husker Du and Naked Raygun will strike the ears of the young that have been brought up in a horrible world where emo is the most “exciting” thing to happen in underground music.

Hopefully I'm wrong. Maybe some kid will pass up the new Thursday album and take a chance with Challenger. The album isn’t going to become an instant classic. And it’s probably more apt to get us aged folk reaching back to the classics that got us into music… but it’s better than most that attempt this kind of throw back. So go ahead, pick it up. I mean, Jade Tree has a better track record than most, right?