Album Review: Swingin’ Utters – “Here, Under Protest”

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For the past 20 years Fat Wreck has been the premier punk label. Sure Epitaph was great and Nitro had its moments, but the house that Fat Mike built has remained at the top. The “classic” Fat bands include names such as Lagwagon, Propaghandi, No Use for a Name, and Swingin’ Utters. Over the last few years these bands have either left or become a lot less active than they were in their heyday, and a new wave of bands like Teenage Bottlerocket, the Flatliners, and Cobra Skulls have started taking the spotlight (and deservedly so). Every so often, though, one of the classic bands awakens to deliver something that schools even the best of these newer bands. The Utters’ “Here, Under Protest” does just that.

Eight years is a long time. It’s the amount of time that we waited for George W. Bush to leave office, it’s how many years you’ve been in college still trying to figure out what you wanna do, and it’s how many years it took me to learn how to do laundry properly (laziness played into this a lot) . It’s also the length of time that has elapsed since Swingin’ Utters put out a studio album. The previous mentioned classic Fat bands were the ones that I grew up with and loved, so I get a little extra excited when there is some activity from one of these staples.

In this writer’s opinion, Swingin’ Utters have been the best band on Fat for years now. The gap of eight years between records has been noticeable: I believe the Utters knew this next one had to be great to keep the long-waiting fans happy. What they came up with is one of the best records that Fat Wreck has ever put out.

The album starts off blazing with the track “Brand New Lungs.” As soon as the first few chords are struck you know you’ve found something special. An uplifting song about not looking to the past and getting your shit together and giving yourself a fresh start. The following track, “Take The Long Way Home,” is among the best songs the Utters have ever made. Super catchy, perfect melodies and the dueling vocals of Mr. Johnny Peebucks and guitarist Darius Koski. Other highlight tracks include “Reds And Blues And Beggars,” the Beatles-inspired “Bent Collector of 1,000 Limbs,” and the pit starting “Give It All To The Man.” There isnt a weak track on this album: it’s one of those rare records that you can listen all the way through and not get bored. Seventeen tracks of punk rock perfection.

“Here, Under Protest” wields strong country, bluegrass and even blues influences, all wrapped up in the unique UK77-meets-classic-90s-Fat sound that the Utters have honed over the years. Singer Johnny Peebucks has one of the most distinctive voices in punk rock: rasp meets sincerity, the perfect sound of optimism while still being pissed off. The band is tight. Darius Koski is one of the most talented guitarists in punk rock and shines on this album. Though Spike Slawson is perhaps better known for his singing with Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, his bass playing is impeccable.

This record will be on many best of 2011 lists and will likely be the best that Fat releases this year (assuming Lagwagon doesn’t have a gem like this waiting). The mixture of genres and heartfelt lyrics give this album staying power. I can see looking back on this in a decade like I do with a classic like 1998’s “Five Lessons Learned.” Swingin’ Utters make the type of music that avoids the current trends of the punk rock scene yet always stays relevant. Here’s to another eight years. Maybe I’ll learn to cook by the time we get the next album. “Here, Under Protest” is beef burgers.



23 Comments

  1. danny4/21/2011 11:29 AM | Permalink

    Really looking forward to this album although I’d have to say Strung Out takes the crown as the kings of Fat.

  2. ccc4/21/2011 1:00 PM | Permalink

    this ain’t folk….at all!
    this is punk & rock.
    viva los ‘utters!

  3. straighttohell82
    StraightToHell824/21/2011 1:22 PM | Permalink

    I honestly think Strung Out is one of the only terrible bands on Fat.

  4. Jason4/22/2011 6:15 AM | Permalink

    I hafta agree, Strung Out is the best Fat has. But the Utters are no joke! Can’t wait to hear this. I really enjoyed Dead Flowers.

  5. adriel
    adriel4/22/2011 8:53 AM | Permalink

    True, there’s folk influence but its mostly straight up punk rock

  6. adriel
    adriel4/22/2011 9:00 AM | Permalink

    Finally we agree on something. Next to Pour Habbit, there my pick for the worst.

  7. ccc4/25/2011 9:51 AM | Permalink

    The Utters might be folk-punk….but THIS album is not.

  8. i liked that nerf herder or sum 82 on fat cat records

  9. Dave Buck4/27/2011 2:56 PM | Permalink

    On my first listen I wasn’t digging this album at all. Gave it a few more spins though, and every time it’s getting better and better. Gonna give this a 3 for now but very possible I’ll want to up it again with another couple listens…

  10. Dave Buck4/27/2011 2:59 PM | Permalink

    Come on! “Suburban Teenage Wastebland Blues”? That album is in my top 10 punk albums of all time! They started dual tracking Jason’s vocals or something around “American Paradox” and it bugs me, but their first 4 albums are all sick!

  11. Lauren Mills4/28/2011 11:38 AM | Permalink

    Really stoked on this album. The utters rule. They’ve never let me down. As far as Pour Habit and Strung Out go, they’re both sweet! Why the hate? It’s great music.

  12. adriel
    adriel4/29/2011 1:39 PM | Permalink

    If you like it you should all stop rating it a 3. This album is deff not a 3. Fucking awesome!

  13. UhFuckUhYouUh4/29/2011 3:47 PM | Permalink

    First listen, a 3 or 4.
    I believe I just finished my 57th spin of this album.

    So. Fucking. Great!

  14. UhFuckUhYouUh4/29/2011 3:48 PM | Permalink

    I definitely gave it 5 stars… don’t know why a “3” is still coming up.

  15. maltee
    Maltee4/21/2012 12:20 AM | Permalink

    Great album!

  16. anawelliver
    AnaWelliver7/10/2015 5:51 AM | Permalink

    well done

  17. charlesgarner
    CharlesGarner7/14/2015 5:09 AM | Permalink

    superbbbbbbbbbbbb

  18. jameshood
    JamesHood7/16/2015 12:06 AM | Permalink

    lovely stuff

  19. adamabraham
    AdamAbraham7/25/2015 12:18 AM | Permalink

    its amazing

  20. austinbailey
    Austinbailey7/25/2015 3:53 AM | Permalink

    awesome

  21. kathywilson
    KathyWilson8/25/2015 12:08 AM | Permalink

    incredible work

  22. robertmiller6/17/2016 6:15 AM | Permalink

    Awesome

  23. jacobtrex11/1/2016 2:34 AM | Permalink

    I am fan of dead flower

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