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July 23, 2007

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It’s about time bands reclaimed the punk/hardcore genres from all of the guyliner wearing, Fall Out Boy-aping bastards out thar. Hailing from Richmond, VA, recently minted Jade Tree act Cloak/Dagger has opted to bring back the art of the fast beat with “We Are.” A well executed introduction to the band in terms of both songwriting and title, “We Are” harkens back to the grainy, thrashy goodness of ’80s hardcore acts like Black Flag circa “Damaged” while throwing in some garage rock-esque vibes a la Rocket from the Crypt. The playing is fast and loose, the vocals are always shouted, and the recording quality is?°¦ well, ok, the record sounds like ass, but in a totally punk rock way.

That’s what sets Cloak/Dagger apart from would-be punk revivalists. “We Are” is a throwback album in aesthetic as well as in rhythm. It sounds kind of bass ackwards to say that horribly lo fi recording quality makes for a better LP, but it’s true. This stuff would never work on a major label budget (Anybody remember Geffen-signees S.T.U.N.?). Rather, the muddy mixing keeps things old school.

Lyrically, the band is very much in keeping with the frustration expressed by hardcore bands, using the “us vs. them” approach to lyrics. Album opener “Bended Knee” may start with “I’m out of touch with the future/I’m out of touch with waiting for someone to save us,” but it’s very much in touch with the ideologies expressed before by Minor Threat and The Germs.

Also like Minor Threat and The Germs, though, “We Are” suffers from an over saturation of sameness in its songwriting. Granted, it’s only 26 minutes long, and it’s a got-damn searing album. But, the repetitive nature of the band’s shouting and chord smashing makes “We Are” a less interesting choice for permanent rotation in one’s music collection.

With the exception of “Untitled Instrumental,” the aptly titled but uncomfortably tacked on album closer, “We Are” offers blistering punk/hardcore all the way through. While it doesn’t bring anything new to listeners’ ears, it does resuscitate a much loved style with great ability. [By: Joe Pelone]

Wonka Vision

Joe Pelone