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DS Exclusive: Riot Fest 2022 – Day 2 (Yellowcard, Bad Religion, 7Seconds, Yungblud, Gogol Bordello and more)

Day 2 of Riot Fest 2022 took place on September 17th. The temperatures rose and because it was a Saturday, so did the crowd size. It was a day of both music and expressions of solidarity with one nation under attack. Red Scare Industries’ No Trigger was assigned to the smallest music stage in the […]

Day 2 of Riot Fest 2022 took place on September 17th. The temperatures rose and because it was a Saturday, so did the crowd size. It was a day of both music and expressions of solidarity with one nation under attack.


Red Scare IndustriesNo Trigger was assigned to the smallest music stage in the park, the Rebels stage. However, that did not stop the boys from Boston from giving a powerful performance, including the tunes “Antifantasy,” “Holy Punks,” “No Tattoos,” and “Neon National Park.” There is little doubt in my mind, or at least lots of reason to hope, that No Trigger will be promoted to a larger stage at its next Riot Fest appearance. I’m not much of a gambler but I’ll take the bet that they will indeed be back at the festival, and sooner than later.


Fans of Bully were fortunate to not only see one of their favorites treat them to a fantastic set, but they did so from the Radicals Stage. That stage provided the most shade and the coolest setting on an otherwise boiler of a day. Rolling through “Trash,” ”Where to Start, ”Stuck in Your Head, ”Kills to Be Resistant, ”Milkman,” “Hate and Control,” “Lightsabre Cocksucking Blues” Bully gave the crowd what it was looking forward to and needed.


A formidable amount of joy was felt as The Joy Formidable took over the Roots stage. That line might be of questionable quality, however, the performance by the pride and the Formidable Joy of Mold, Flintshare, Wales (ok, I’ll stop now) was quite palpable.  The band, presently based in London, and composed of Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan, Rhydian Dafydd Davies, and Matthew James Thomas performed solidly a set that included “The Greatest Light Is the Greatest Shade,” “Y Bluen Eira,” “Sevier,” “CSTS (Come See the Show),” and “Whirring.”


The Get Up Kids were one of the 2022 Riot Fest bands doing an “album play” set. The album in this case was its classic Four Minute Mile on its 25th Anniversary. Though not dedicated to running legend Roger Bannister, as the title might suggest to near-lifelong runners (such as myself), it does feature track runners on the cover. More importantly, the band’s debut studio album transformed the members of the group into stars of the emo punk sub-genre. For attendees who became fans at the album’s first release and those just discovering its music, it was great to hear the full track listing, including, “Stay Gold Ponyboy,” “Lowercase West Thomas,” “Washington Square Park,” “Michelle With One “L”,” and “I’m a Loner Dottie, a Rebel.”


7Seconds announced their retirement in 2018, citing health issues as the primary reason. For that reason, the band appearing at Riot Fest this year was especially compelling. The band returned to touring earlier this year as support for Circle Jerks, alongside Negative Approach. Sammy Siegler sat in the drum chair in place of Troy Mowat, whose health issues continue to keep him sidelined. Kevin Second’s voice was strong and the setlist featured many entries from the band’s classic 1984 album The Crew. The album was remastered and reissued in deluxe style by Trust Records in 2021. Among them: “Here’s Your Warning,” “Definite Choice,“ Not Just Boys Fun,” “This Is the Angry,” “Here’s Your Warning,” “Definite Choice,” “Not Just Boys Fun. 7Seconds also played “We’re Gonna Fight,” plus covered “99 Red Balloons” by Nena.


For those who might not know, Alexisonfire is from St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada and named after an American porn actress. There was some controversy surrounding that latter fact but let’s move now to its Riot Fest appearance. It was a crowd pleaser, featuring in the setlist “Accidents,” Boiled Frogs,” “Sweet Dreams of Otherness,” “Pulmonary Archery,” and “Drunks, Lovers, Sinners.” For a hot late summer day, near that stage was a pretty cool place to hang.


Yungblud is an excitable boy (a nod to Warren Zevon there) and an exciting performer. Dressed in black dress pant style shorts held up by a single suspender over a long sleeve black and white striped shirt added up to him looking a bit like a post-modern day Pinocchio sans the pointy cap. Yungblud’s infectious charm was obvious, as he bounced across the stage almost nonstop through “The Funeral,” “superdeadfriends,” “parents,” “Tissues,” “I Love You, Will You Marry Me,” among others. His set ended with a show of support for the Ukrainian activists at the festival as the English rising star brought a group of them onstage. The Ukrainian flag being held high by said activists demonstrated again the solidarity for the war-torn nation on display at Riot Fest 2022.


Bad Religion is yet another of what I call FORFs — Friend of Riot Fest. As in, the band is a regular part of the festival’s lineups over the years. This should continue ad infinitum. They are a brilliant group every bit deserving of the word legend which has long been attached to them and the innumerable tattoo tributes across the globe. One crowd member expressed their love with the BR symbol shaved into and painted onto his skull. Meeting Greg Graffin for the first time, in the media tent, he exuded humility and kindness. Graffin: “Hi I’m Greg.” Me, in an attempt to be professional and not fan girl the PhD Punk icon from one my top 5 bands: “Thanks, I gotta go shoot 7Seconds now.” Yes, I’m a dork. But I’d hazard a guess Graffin was ok with that awkward bailing out. Back to their performance though. When the music kicked in Graffin, Jay Bentley, Brian Baker, Mike Dimkich, and Jamie Miller got straight to the point with “Recipe for Hate.” That was followed by “New Dark Ages” and “Fuck You.” With so many classics over the decades of its existence, the band couldn’t possibly hit all of them. However, it did a pretty good damn job of getting in a lot of them. Among those they drove through were “Dept. of False Hope, “We’re Only Gonna Die,” “Suffer,” and “21st Century (Digital Boy),” They concluded the set with “Fuck Armageddon… This Is Hell,” “Sorrow,” and my personal favorite, “American Jesus.” Whew and Wow. That about sums up Bad Religion in general and its Riot Fest performance in particular.


Gogol Bordello returned to Riot Fest as a replacement for Bauhaus which had to cancel its American tour due to lead singer Peter Murphy entering rehab. The Gypsy Punks released their latest album, Solidaritine, just one day before its set at Douglass Park. It appeared clear a priority for the band was to continue increasing and solidifying support for Ukraine and its efforts to fight back against Russian Vladimir Putin, his government, and the Russian military (Putin, of course, directed the military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022). Earlier in the day, Eugene Hutz, the Boyarka native singer of Gogol Bordello, participated in a moving tribute to his homeland in a performance alongside a Ukrainian dance troupe. The full band known for its rousing performances did not disappoint as they ran through “Immigrant Punk,” “Wanderlust King,” ”My Companjera,” “Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher),” “Think Locally, Fuck Globally,” and “Mishto!”


Yellowcard was one of the three Saturday Night headliners. The band performed in full, its fourth album, also its major label debut, 2003’s Ocean Avenue. Way Away,” released as the album’s first single, and credited as Yellowcard’s injection into the realm of mainstream popularity, started off the set. Title tune “Ocean Avenue,” was followed by ”Empty Apartment,” and “Life of a Salesman.” The rest of the album including “Miles Apart,”  “Twentythree,” “View From Heaven,” “One Year, Six Months,” “Back Home” took diehard Yellowcard fans on a nostalgia trip. But what a trip!


See more Riot Fest 2022 day 2 photos below!


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DS Festival Recap: Riot Fest Day Two – Part Two (9/17/22) w/ Sunny Day Real Estate, The Front Bottoms and War on Women

Continuing with our Riot Fest 2022 coverage with a few bands from day two! In case you missed it, click here to see my day one recap. We’re starting off with the hardcore punk band War on Women. This female-fronted band delves heavily into political and feminist issues. Shawna Potter is the very definition of […]

Continuing with our Riot Fest 2022 coverage with a few bands from day two! In case you missed it, click here to see my day one recap.


We’re starting off with the hardcore punk band War on Women. This female-fronted band delves heavily into political and feminist issues. Shawna Potter is the very definition of fierce; definitely see this band live if you get the chance…and, head’s up they will be touring with fellow hardcore punk band Cancer Bats this fall for an East Coast U.S. tour.


Next are The Front Bottoms, an emo/indie rock band from New Jersey. They released their third installment of their popular Grandma EP series titled Theresa on September 2, 2022.


Long-time emo band Sunny Day Real Estate made a stop at Riot Fest for their fourth reunion tour. Their 1994 debut studio album Diary has been considered one of the defining albums of the Midwest emo genre.


Check out the full gallery below and Part One of day two here!


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DS Photo Gallery: A Vulture Wake, Stuck Lucky Headline Nashville Punk Rock Flea Market 6.11.22

I can confidently say this is the best punk event held in Music City at least since I began calling here home in 2013. Held at the notorious Further Farms just a short drive from downtown, and judging by the fact that event shirts, water and food had all sold out just halfway through the […]

I can confidently say this is the best punk event held in Music City at least since I began calling here home in 2013. Held at the notorious Further Farms just a short drive from downtown, and judging by the fact that event shirts, water and food had all sold out just halfway through the event, expectations were shattered and we had ourselves a party. All eight bands playing completely kicked ass, over 50 vendors set up camp and drew a crowd I would guess numbered well over a thousand people, and Denver-based nonprofit Punk Rock Saves Lives was swabbing people left and right for their bone marrow registry. Beer was drank and fun was had!

Indianapolis native Mike Muse of Amuse kicked things off with a solo acoustic set after the other 2/3 of a Amuse were unable to make it. Nonetheless, the acoustic set was a great precursor for what was to come. To close, the boys in SecondSelf hopped up to join Mike for a much needed and well-timed Skate or Die cover, much to the pleasure of the continuously growing crowd.

SecondSelf has solidified themselves as one of my local favorites over the past several years; they’re a great bunch of dudes that play hard, fast, killer punk rock, what more could you ask for. These dudes have something really cool going, and for Nashville punk rock’s sake, I hope it continues. I’ve caught these guys live more than almost anybody, and Nate’s guitar solos still nearly melt my face off on the regular.

Sugar In The Gas Tank were a somewhat last minute addition to the NPFM, but they offered a nice change of pace with their early 2000s blink 182-esque brand of pop punk. Their catchy riffs and upbeat tempo gave me flashbacks to my younger Warped Tour days and showed me a side of Nashville punk that I hadn’t seen in years, but was glad to have present.

I’ve caught Tank Rats a few times over the years, most recently a few months back opening for the Cryptics. And man do these guys bring some damn energy! The Tank Rats brand of Nashville street punk was on full-display with this awe inspiring performance. From the start of their set on, the atmosphere picked up and our Music City party was in full-swing, thanks in large part to the absolute mayhem that these guys brought to the stage.

Stuck Lucky holds a special place in my heart. They headlined the first punk show I ever attended in Nashville, and from then on, I’ve followed along to any local show these guys are a part of. A masterful blend of ska and punk that I have trouble drawing similarities to, and, like a fine wine, these guys have only gotten better with age.

Their mastery was put on full display during their set, which involved trombonist Will Carter hopping down in the crowd and straddling a stuffed banana mid-song.

Flummox was a great representation of the sheer diversity that the Nashville punk scene encompasses. We had West Coast skate-punk well represented by Secondself, pop-punk by Amuse and SITGT, ska by Stuck Lucky, and oi! by Tank Rats. Flummox was weird, but in all the best ways, and it’s hard to pin them down to any one genre.

Breaux! was the first of two acts that I was especially excited to see for the first time. I don’t know how I had never heard of these guys, but their performance made me reminisce about seeing A Wilhelm Scream in Nashville a few years prior. Lead singer Price Cannon entertained the shit out of the steady crowd that continued to fill the market, and they were an excellent predecessor for the punk rock mastery that was to follow, A Vulture Wake.

Now we’ve reached the main event, the band that I had been dying for years to see ever since I stumbled across Chad Price’s One Week Record in 2018, A Vulture Wake. When I found out about guitarist Dan Wleklinsi’s tenure in early Rise Against, this only added to my anticipation. To put it bluntly, these dudes know how to rock and exceeded everything I had expected.

There’s not too much to be said about this type of performance other than I would recommend these guys to anybody asking for a great punk show to see. Wleklinski can shred the hell out of the guitar, and I was in awe of Chad Price’s vocals for their entire set. If anything, look at that dude’s hair; worth the price of admission in and of itself.

Attached below are any other photos I got from the show (these make up the tiny percentage that did not come out as complete garbage). Feel free to peruse at your own leisure and I hope to have many more of these galleries up in the coming months. Cheers!

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DS Photo Gallery: Lagwagon, Grumpster, SecondSELF in Nashville, TN 9.24.22

The ageless and invincible Lagwagon came to town a couple weeks ago and I found myself questioning why this was my first time seeing them. This being their “30ish Years on the ‘Wagon” tour (35 to be exact), they’ve been around long enough that surely I would have caught them at least once. But no, […]


The ageless and invincible Lagwagon came to town a couple weeks ago and I found myself questioning why this was my first time seeing them. This being their “30ish Years on the ‘Wagon” tour (35 to be exact), they’ve been around long enough that surely I would have caught them at least once. But no, once again I have saddened the punk rock gods by having not seen the live performance of yet another punk staple.

With that little piece of baggage out of the way, I can assure you that I finally made it to Eastside Bowl (my first time as well). I saw the Laggy boys do what they do best, was introduced to Grumpster whom I had never even heard of but was truly impressed by, and hung out with the dudes in SecondSELF, the last minute replacements for Bigwig.


SecondSELF was the replacement for Bigwig, and, although we were all saddened to hear of their untimely departure from the tour, I heard no complaints about the local favorites taking the stage. It’s always nice getting to see some good friends of yours absolutely blow the roof off the place, especially opening for one of my all-time favorites.


For a lot of aging punk fans, there’s a phase early in life where you’re in love with pop-punk. For many, that’s a phase that is soon left in the past, myself included. I had an early-high school interest in many of the bands on Pure Noise Records, but have since trended more towards the East coast skate-punks on Fat Wreck Chords.

What I will say is, thanks to bands like Grumpster, part of my music taste is trending back to that of my early days discovering punk. Grumpster performed a version of pop-punk that exhibited some qualities of what I enjoy now, merged with what might appeal to those already fans of Pure Noise. It’s unknown to me whether this trend for myself will continue, but what’s certain is this three-piece was an excellent opener and fucking killed it in front of a near-capacity crowd.


I’ve used forms of the word ‘professionalism’ as an artist description on the site before, but if it applies to anyone in punk, I think these guys deserve it (I think I used that description on Frank Turner, so I’d be okay putting these two in that same category).

Having never seen them before, I was able to truly appreciate the show that the Lagwagon dudes put on: the difficulty and complexity of what they were playing, the wittiness behind their stage banter, their tasteful showmanship. No wonder these guys have been at it 30+ years, whatever formula they’ve got for songwriting and performing sure is working.


At times during the show, I had to remind myself to actually take the pictures I was there for and stop admiring the mastery that was taking place before me. This might have been my favorite show all year and I was glad a band of this caliber drew close a near-capacity crowd in a city where that’s often difficult to do.

As always, thanks for your time both here and wherever else on the site you may wander off to. Cheers!

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Dying Scene Presents – Artists Beyond the Chords: Chris Shary

When art and music collide! “Artists Beyond the Chords” is a Dying Scene series highlighting stories from various visual artists in the scene. Our first installment showcases the work and wisdom of Chris Shary. Chris Shary is one of the hardest working artists, who’s been a hard hitting staple in the punk community for decades. […]

When art and music collide! “Artists Beyond the Chords” is a Dying Scene series highlighting stories from various visual artists in the scene. Our first installment showcases the work and wisdom of Chris Shary.

Chris Shary is one of the hardest working artists, who’s been a hard hitting staple in the punk community for decades. Based out of Stockton, California, Shary is also a dedicated drama teacher, father, husband, and self-proclaimed dork. He truly does it ALL (pun intended). Best known for his depiction of “Milo” (Descenedents), his works have also supported the likes of ALL, The Damned, Devo, Blink-182, The Meatmen, Circle Jerks, 7 Seconds, The Dead Milkmen, Agent Orange, Melvins, The Lillingtons, Chemical People, Masked Intruder, and so many more. His output ranges from album art, concert flyers, t-shirts, specialized merch items, and even action figures. With such an impressive resume, one might think it’s all done for notoriety, but deep down he’s just a huge fan expressing his undying love for music. 

Shary’s artistic journey began when he was first able to hold a crayon and pencil, but really became serious at the tender age of 6. At 17 years old, he started creating pieces for different bands and has been going strong ever since. He often teeters between different portraiture styles such as vibrant pop-art induced color blocking and black and white sketch realism. His current art-weapons-of-choice are pen and ink, mainly sharpies, but he recently started working with acrylic paints again. Consistently creating is key to his process.

“I try and draw every day, but I do a lot of thinking prior to starting commissioned work, or if I am getting ideas together for a band I want to work with. I walk my dog for a half hour every morning right when I wake up and that’s time I devote to thinking of ideas of what I might create,” said Shary.

Another way he searches for ideas is by experiencing live music. Oftentimes you can catch him at some of the biggest shows snapping shots for his latest creations. Not many can rock a phone camera in the photo pit without getting a boot from security, but he has clout, and for good reason. 

“I use the photos as reference when I’m working,” Shary explained, “but it also connects me with bands on a much closer level.”

As far as his true artistic motivation, Shary does not look outside of his own home. Family comes first, and it lives in the heart of each piece he creates. 

“My family is the thing that inspires me the most. My wife Lori is also an amazing artist and she is constantly making incredible pieces and kinda pushes me because of that. My son is also a big fan of the work we do, so I always want to impress him.”

Like a machine, Shary regularly posts new works on his social media accounts. Whether it’s commissioned or perfectly juxtaposed doodles for his own pleasure. Music aside, subjects range from pop culture references, memes, movies, television, and comic books. He never lets himself falter or take long breaks away from art, and strongly believes no creative person should. 

“I think the idea of an artist’s block is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy. People tend to psych themselves out and then can’t get out of it. It just seems like an easy way to not work. I’m all about making things and hitting headlines. Just keep doing work and there is no need to slow down.” 

For those who want to break into the music art industry, Shary preaches the importance of repetition while remaining open and to your true self. 

“Do the work. Draw everyday and be happy to do it for yourself. No one owes you anything so be happy for whatever happens. It’s not always a quick process so do the work,” he advised. 

When asking Shary what he would like to leave Dying Scene readers with he offered a pure sentiment of kindness. 

“Be nice to each other, and try seeing things from other people’s point of view.”

View and support Chris Shary’s artwork at: 

Chrisshary.bigcartel.com

Instagram

Facebook 

Chris Shary’s Liner Notes

Do you have a favorite concert memory? 
One of my biggest thrills was singing “Bloodstains” with DESCENDENTS in 97. I guess one of my all time favorite shows was one with Kevin Seconds, Steve Soto and Alyson Seconds in an acoustic setting. It was insanely beautiful. 

What bands are you listening to now? 
The Linda Lindas have been an obsession lately. Just saw Bleached and fell for them. Kinda been listening to the Lemonheads a lot lately and always Jawbreaker, and DESCENDENTS of course. Saw HoleHog in Sacramento the other night and they were rad!

What song best describes you as a person? 
The theme from Shaft. At least that’s what I hear in my head a lot.

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Dying Scene Record Radar: New punk vinyl releases & reissues (A Vulture Wake, The Network, Adolescents & more)

Yo! What’s going on, friends? Welcome back to the Dying Scene Record Radar, the weekly column where we present you with colorful plastic discs of music to spend your hard earned money on. We’ve got a lot of good shit in store for you this week, so I hope your wallet’s feeling fat, and your […]

Yo! What’s going on, friends? Welcome back to the Dying Scene Record Radar, the weekly column where we present you with colorful plastic discs of music to spend your hard earned money on. We’ve got a lot of good shit in store for you this week, so I hope your wallet’s feeling fat, and your credit limit is nice and high. Enough fucking around, let’s get into it.

Super exclusive, world premiere, breaking news, OMGGGGGGGGG hoooooly fuuuuuuck!!!!!!

1-2-3-4 Go! Records has been on an absolute tear lately with exclusive reissues from Rancid, Bad Religion, and the Descendents, to name a few. In their latest email blast, the Oakland record store announced their next reissue will be an exclusive pink vinyl pressing of Money Money 2020 by The Network (which totally isn’t just Green Day wearing ski masks). This is coming at some point in September; join their mailing list to be among the first to know exactly when it’ll be available.

Former ALL frontman Chad Price’s band A Vulture Wake has announced a new full-length album! One.Kingdom.Animal is set to release in November on Thousand Islands Records. There are two vinyl variants, limited to 250 copies each. Go here to get your pre-orders in, and look out for a new single next week.

New York pop-punk band With The Punches is releasing a new LP that combines their first two EPs Keep it Going and It’s Not the End of the World. Both of these releases have been out of print for over 10 years. Grab yours here.

Lots of exciting stuff going on over at Mom’s Basement Records! Some of their upcoming releases include new LPs from two Canadian pop-punk bands, Avem and The Smelters, and a brand new record from Germany’s Hawaiians. They also have copies of the Punk Rock Raduno 5 compilation. Head over to their webstore for all of this and more. Our Canadian friends can get Avem’s Three Birds Stoned LP from the Forbidden Beat Distro.

Swedish punk veterans Venerea have announced a new album titled Euro Trash, due out August 26th on SBÄM Records. There are two vinyl variants (yellow and blue), each limited to 200 copies. Check out their new single “Blind Faith” below, and pre-order the LP here.

Here’s another one from our friends at Thousand Islands Records. British punks On A Hiding To Nothing released their debut album We’ll Probably Be Fine, last year and it kicked fuckin’ ass. Now, it’s getting the wax treatment, with a super limited red vinyl pressing. Get your hands on this one here.

Epitaph Records has announced a 25th Anniversary reissue for The HivesBarely Legal. There are a few different variants of this one; go here for links to where you can obtain each one in exchange for some form of currency.

The Adolescents have repressed two of their more recent LPs, Manifest Density and Cropduster. You can get both of these records on gold colored vinyl here.

Also from SBÄM Records: a new comp featuring songs by Pulley, Love Equals Death, Snuff, and a bunch of other great bands. This is only available through their European webstore, and is a cool way to grab a slice of everything on the label’s eclectic roster.

Now that all the cool stuff has been covered, here’s what I’ve been listening to… I continue to abstain from spending money on new records; after all, I’ve already got hundreds of the fuckin’ things, why do I need more? This week the Lawrence Arms and Frenzal Rhomb got some play time, along with Sloppy Seconds‘ classic Knock Yer Block Off. I’ve been listening to Sheboygan, WI’s Jetty Boys a lot in the car and at work, so I threw their record Let ‘Er Rip on the turntable, too. This is a fantastic pop-punk album – highly recommended listening!

And that’s all, folks! Another Record Radar in the books. As always, thank you for tuning in. If there’s anything we missed (highly likely), or if you want to let everyone know about a new/upcoming vinyl release you’re excited about, send us a message on Facebook or Instagram, and we’ll look into it. Enjoy your weekend, and don’t blow too much money on spinny discs. See ya next week!

*Wanna catch up on all of our Record Radar posts? Type “Record Radar” in the search bar at the top of the page!

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Dying Scene Revisits: The catastrophic failure of The Clash’s “Cut the Crap”

The Clash‘s 1985 death knell Cut the Crap has long been the subject of severe scrutiny from fans and critics alike. This album, the obvious black sheep of their discography, was recorded at a tumultuous point in the legendary band’s career. A few years prior, Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon made the decision to give […]

The Clash‘s 1985 death knell Cut the Crap has long been the subject of severe scrutiny from fans and critics alike. This album, the obvious black sheep of their discography, was recorded at a tumultuous point in the legendary band’s career. A few years prior, Joe Strummer and Paul Simonon made the decision to give longtime drummer Topper Headon the boot due to his increasingly problematic heroin addiction (though it’s worth noting that even Topper himself admits it was the right choice). The subsequent firing of founding member and songwriter Mick Jones dealt an even more significant blow to the Clash, ushering in a new era of the band, often referred to as “The Clash Mark II”. But Strummer and Simonon made their bed, and when it came time to record Cut the Crap, they got to lie in it.

Joining the duo beneath the sheets (along with new guitarists Nick Sheppard and Vince White, and new drummer Pete Howard) was manager Bernie Rhodes, and boy did he shit the bed. Rhodes, who was fired by the Clash in 1979 and soon after re-hired, supposedly at the demands of Strummer, handled production duties on Cut the Crap. One small problem: the guy had no fucking clue what he was doing. Unless you count his involvement in the recording of Vic Godard & Subway Sect’s 1980 LP What’s the Matter Boy?, Rhodes had virtually no experience as a producer before Strummer handed him the keys to the Ferrari (or Ford Fiesta, considering the present state of the Clash).

The lack of a competent producer becomes blatantly obvious within a few seconds of pressing play on Cut the Crap, as you are immediately greeted by the barrage of absolute bullshit that is the opening track “Dictator”. The first thing that is immediately apparent is that new drummer Pete Howard is not playing on the recording; Rhodes instead opted to use one of the cheesiest sounding drum machines you’ll ever lay ears on. Soon after, your ears begin to bleed from the incessant radio chatter, coupled with piercing synthesizers that seem to be 100 decibels louder than everything else in the mix. You can barely hear Strummer’s vocals or any of the guitars under the mountain of noise. And it’s a real shame because it sounds like there might actually be a decent song somewhere in there.

“Dirty Punk” is a major improvement over its predecessor, sonically at least. It seems Rhodes may have put down the psychedelics for a minute and let Strummer do his thing on this track. Unfortunately, while the synthesizers, horns, and general noise are not present, the lyrical content is disappointingly shallow and fails to grab me. We get it, Joe! You’re a dirty punk and you’re really excited to drive, drive, drive your big, big, big, big, big car up the boulevard. You don’t have to remind us a dozen times in the span of three minutes.

Another major misstep made in the production of Cut the Crap was the decision to use gang vocals on every. single. fucking. chorus. I’m not exaggerating – just listen to the album. Every chorus is shouted, full throat, regardless of lyrical context. As a result, all nuance is removed from the songwriting. The otherwise beautiful, heartfelt “This is England” is tarnished as Strummer is joined by a choir that can barely carry a tune, leaving little to differentiate the song from ultra-hollow tracks like “We Are The Clash” and “Are You Red..Y”. If scholarly source Wikipedia is to be believed, Rhodes is not to blame for this decision, as most of the band was in favor of the liberal use of “football-style chants” for the choruses.

Now that we’ve gotten all that negativity out of the way, let’s switch gears and focus on some of the more positive aspects of Cut the Crap. Let’s start with “Fingerpoppin'”! This groovy little number is without a doubt the crown jewel of Clash songs, with its funky slap bass and introspective lyricism – ah, who am I kidding? This song fucking suuuuuuuucks! It is awful. A lot of tracks on this album have the potential to be pretty good if Bernie Rhodes didn’t take a god damn baseball bat to their kneecaps; “Fingerpoppin'” is not one of them. This is an aggressively corny song that should be erased from existence. I listen to this record from time to time because I’m mentally unstable, but I cannot in good faith advise you to listen to this track.

All jokes aside, there are some very enjoyable songs to be found on Cut the Crap. “Movers and Shakers” is really, really good – one of the few tracks with a chorus that lends itself to the gang vocals (in fact, I can’t listen to this song without singing along to the chorus). “This is England”, generally considered the best song on the album, is excellent as well. “Three Card Trick” and “Play To Win” remind me a lot of Strummer’s later output with his other band Joe Strummer and the Mescaleros.

What frustrates me the most about Cut the Crap is that deep, deep down, under the many layers of horrendous production, there’s a solid album. That’s made abundantly clear when you listen to recordings of “The Clash Mark II” playing these songs live. There is a stark contrast between what this record was intended to sound like, and what was ultimately realized after Rhodes had his way with it. Take a minute to check out the live recording of “Dictator” below – it’s actually incredible how much better it sounds than the catastrophe of a studio version. This YouTube playlist with live versions of eight tracks from the album is a great listen, and the Out of Control demos also paint a very different picture of these songs.

Was Cut the Crap ever going to usurp classic Clash records like Give ‘Em Enough Rope or Combat Rock as a fan favorite? Of course not; I’m not that delusional. But I think it certainly deserved a much better fate, and could have made for a respectable sendoff for “The Only Band That Matters”, had there been a serviceable producer at the helm (or anyone not named Bernie Rhodes). If you want an idea of what that version of Cut the Crap could have sounded like, I recommend checking out the “Mohawk Revenge” remix of the album. This fan-made release does a masterful job of mixing some of the salvageable elements of the original tracks with fully re-recorded instrumentation. The cacophonous sounds of drum machines, blaring synthesizers, and the many other downright malicious production decisions are nowhere to be found. Even the most ardent Cut the Crap haters will probably enjoy this re-creation of the much-maligned album.

Ultimately though, Cut the Crap would be the final nail in the coffin of the Clash. Joe Strummer disowned the album, and after unsuccessfully threatening to sue Epic Records to prevent its release, he went into hiding in Spain. The band did not tour in support of the record; they broke up within weeks of its release (though Bernie Rhodes allegedly made a last ditch effort to replace Strummer and keep “The Clash” on the road). And with that, “The Only Band That Matters” was no more.

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