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Give Em the Boot | III | review | punk | compilation | Lollipop

Give 'Em the Boot

III (Hellcat)
by Morgan Coe

Listening to Hellcat's Give 'Em The Boot compilations is like spending an evening looking through Mrs. Armstrong's scrapbook: "Here's little Timmy's band Rancid, and here are some of his friends with the crazy hair, and this is a band that he started as a joke with some other friends from a different band, and look: Here's Rancid again, with some of those Jamaicans they always looked up to... he was so proud! And this is another band, I think one of Timmy's friends was in it, the little one that always used to come around for milk and cookies – what was his name?" At best, these records are more interesting than the average label sampler; at worst, once you get to the third mediocre side project, the whole thing starts to feel like an elaborate inside joke – the plastic trees are dying, and we need two Lars Fredericksen and the Bastards tracks why? And I'm not even going to start on the sheer ass-kissing cojones of Union 13 covering Rancid's own "Roots Radicals" on Give 'Em The Boot I...

The most remarkable thing about this one is how little has changed since the first installment: U.S. Bombs are still trying to sound like a late-'70s English oi band, Boston's Dropkick Murphys are still trying (with more success) to sound like a late-'70s Irish oi band, F-Minus are still playing mid-tempo hardcore with a boy and a girl screaming, King Django has quit Skinnerbox to produce a solo track of slick reggae with affected "Jamaican" vocals, The Gadjits and Pietasters are still getting the hang of playing "soul," Slackers have struck out this time by putting moronic and cheesy singing over what would've been an excellent dub track, and Voodoo Glow Skulls' three-years-too-late ska-punk has been seamlessly swapped for Mouthwash's, um, eight-years-too-late ska-punk. Luckily, Hepcat are still pushing the boundaries of sparse and beautifully sung ska, and Choking Victim have turned into Leftöver Crack, whose "Atheist Anthem" is a damn good example of intense, scruffy punk rock.

On the other hand, Roger Miret (Agnostic Front), Duane Peters (U.S. Bombs), Lars Fredericksen (Rancid), and Matt Freeman (Rancid) have all disgraced themselves in "side projects" that never needed to see the light of day, let alone be immortalized on wax: Roger's "Disasters," Duane's "Hunns," and Lars' "Bastards" have very terrifying names but nothing worthwhile to add to the "street punk" they attempt, while Freeman's "Devil's Brigade" is a standout track of jazzy rockabilly... until he starts to sing. The Distillers, Agnostic Front, and The Nerve Agents, incidentally, are angry and loud, while Tiger Army and Necromantix take a crack at psychobilly, with mixed results.

But I'm saving a special place in Hell for Rancid themselves. First of all, because the best they could come up with here was two shrill and indistinguishable tracks presumably from the record where they decided they were going to stop playing Clash and be Discharge for awhile. Do I lose or gain ironic hipster points by pointing out that good hardcore these days is not generally made by guys with cute liberty spikes, eyeliner, and record deals? In the end, none of it really matters, thanks to Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros' tragic "Global A Go Go." This kind of post-Big Audio Dynamite dance-pop would be bad enough if he hadn't opened it with "This tune is going out to Marconi"... cause he invented radio, see? You know, that thing The Clash were obsessed with getting on after they ran out of real stuff to write about? Of course, the joke is on us: The Clash did get on the radio (although mostly vicariously), and all that goofy the-deejay-will-save-us jive they lifted from old Lee Perry records instantly became a slap in the face to anyone who ever gave a fuck... and now I have to spend eternity reviewing "punk rock label samplers" like this one.
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