Man, this band would’ve fit golden-era Lookout Records like a glove. Luckily, there are lots of labels around that specialize in this particular brand of catchy power punk. The bigger ones like Red Scare and the ever growing Recess, and smaller ones like All For Hope Records, who have unleashed Civil War Rust’s “The Fun & The Lonely” upon the listening public.
My first exposure to Civil War Rust, as, I assume, was most people’s outside out of the band’s Bay area homestead, was as part of AMP Magazine’s free Cross Pollination comp from a couple years ago, which you can still grab here.
Their featured song “Hymns of the Canary” (great title) was a little rough around the edges (it was a demo version, a cleaner, tighter version appears on the album), but was well written and catchy as hell, with healthy doses of gang vocal stylings and some cool guitar parts.
Hitting go on “The Fun & The Lonely” and hearing lead-off song “Whipping Star” come charging through the headphones makes good on the promise of “Hymns” with better sounding production and tighter performance. That performance and songwriting really comes together on the song “Mayday” delivering one of the catchiest, and grittiest, songs on the record.
A few songs later the tunes all start to mush together somewhat and the chugging rhythms, melodies and vocal work threaten to become forgettable. “Seven Down” saves the album from this fate though by changing the tempo slightly and offering a fresh sounding hook within the same framework of the rest of the album.
By the time the aforementioned “Hymns” and the final song “Diving” (another fresh sounding track) wind the album down, the half an hour-ish runtime feels just about right.
Stylistically, Civil War Rust resemble many without overtly sounding like anyone in particular. With vocals that sound like The Gaslight Anthem’s Brian Fallon being backed by Chris No.2 from Anti-Flag, and hooks that are poppy and clean but lean against a gritty delivery that keeps the whole production dancing on a serrated edge. It gives everything a kind of Polar Bear Club feel, but, you know, less sad.
In some ways, “The Fun & The Lonely” sounds like a first record (first full length anyway) like the band is still trying to find its stride and getting used to itself. It’s good, catchy, fast punk rock though which all points to bigger and better things for a band that gains new followers with every show that they play. They’re a band that will just keep getting better with every subsequent album they release, mark my words.