Long-running Simi Valley punks Strung Out have announced a new album and have debuted the new track “Daggers”. Titled Songs of Armor and Devotion, the album will be the band’s 9th studio album and the follow-up to 2015’s Transmission.Alpha.Delta.
Produced by Cameron Webb (Social Distortion, Motorhead), Songs of Armor and Devotion is due out August 9th and will be released by the band’s long-term home Fat Wreck. You can pre-order the new album here and you can check out the new song “Daggers” below.
What of “Daggers”? One of the most enduring qualities of Strung Out is their consistency, in both quality and output. You can listen to Blackhawks of Over Los Angeles, or Agents of the Underground, or dive deep into their much-lauded catalog from the 90s (Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues and Twisted by Design are forever classics) and see that while so many bands tend to wither away over the years, Strung Out have just gotten stronger. Coated in melodies and Jason Cruz’s unmistakable vocals, the song continues the band’s unrelenting, guitar-driven fury.
Face to Face return to the live album scene with ‘Live in a Dive’
A new Face to Face live album 21 years after one solidified their career
21 years after Victorville punks Face to Face set the standard for punk rock live albums, the band are set to once again return to the live album scene as part of Fat Wreck’s Live in a Dive series. It is however, worth taking some time to look back at the first full-length face to face live album, simply titled Live, released in January 1998 on Vagrant Records (the live set was recorded in September of 1997 in Los Angeles). It is still the gold standard of punk rock live albums, and to this day still rings as urgent and timely as it was the day it was released- an evergreen time capsule of the band’s magnetic live performance.
1997 capped off a good few years for Face to Face. Fresh from the release of their underrated self-titled 1996 major label debut, the band was finding good ground after some lineup changes. Scott Shiflett was relatively new to the band, and his incredible bass work is crystal clear on the live record, sounding great on songs like “Dissension”. With the departure of original bassist Matt Riddle, front man Trever Keith undertook all of the band’s songwriting duties and their major label debut was a fantastic album and found the band skirting more alternative territory away from their melodic punk roots. So Live came at the right time- and the songs recorded on it were the perfect showcase for where the band were at that stage of their career, blazing through a host of older songs as well as new ones.
There was just one omission- “Disconnected”. The band’s hit song had seen its fair share of radio play, television time, and had featured on multiple releases. Perhaps the band was just over it at the time (if you’ve listened to the hidden track of their 1995 album Big Choice, they riff on the fact that the song has been released to death) but it was that one missing element from Live. They made amends in 2005 by releasing a live cut of it on their Shoot The Moon collection, but it lingered as the only real negative of that 1998 album.
Now 21 years later, the band return as part of Live in a Dive, an opportunity for fans to hear live recordings of a good mix of the band’s work since 1998. While there’s plenty of songs from 2016’s Protection, there’s a few from 2011’s Laugh Now, Laugh Later and 2002’s How to Ruin Everything, but there are no tracks from 2013’s more rockabilly outing Three Chords and a Half Truth. There are however, tracks from their fan-chosen 2000 album Reactionary (including the great “Disappointed”), and yes, “Disconnected”.
The Live in a Dive series have been solid if not unspectacular- adhering to a quality that rarely ruffles the feathers of live recordings. While it’ll be interesting to see if it can capture the same manic energy as 1998’s Live did, it at the very least, offers the mix of new songs, old songs, and some staples that have gone missing in the past. What’s most remarkable perhaps is that some 21 years between live albums and Face to Face are still as great live as they were more than two decades ago. You can listen to “Bend and Not Broken” from Live in a Dive below.
I saw Face to Face live for the first time back in 2000 on their tour with Saves the Day, New Found Glory and Sum 41. I remember in part because I got to see three young bands (Sum 41 replaced Alkaline Trio on the night) on the cusp of breaking big, but mostly because Face to Face headlined as the night’s established act and blew them all out of the water (yes, they played “Disconnected”).
Face to Face: Live in a Dive faces the tough task of reaching the lofty expectations their 1998 album set, but coming from a band still going strong almost 30 years into their career, it’s not out of the ordinary that it can’t. Trever Keith has reiterated this point when talking about the reasons for the new live album;
“We’re still playing this vital, intense music. We’re still here and we’re not going anywhere.”
And that’s the truth. Until then, you can pre-order your copy from Fat Wreck and check out the track listing below.
02. Bent but Not Broken
03. Bill of Goods
04. Double Crossed
05. What’s in a Name
06. No Authority
07. I Won’t Say I’m Sorry
08. You Could’ve Had Everything
09. Should Anything Go Wrong
10. All for Nothing
Fat Wreck Chords will release face to face: Live in a Dive on October 18th.
Tourist Company and their “Fractured State”
“the world felt broken”
Canadian alt-rockers Tourist Company have recently unveiled the second track from their upcoming new album. Titled “Fractured State”, the song is a beautiful, sweeping track that belies the darker undertone of what the song is about.
Vocalist/guitarist Taylor Swindells has said the song was partially inspired by the Charlottesville riots of 2017. At that point Swindells recalls the genesis of what would become the song;
“I remember watching news footage and feeling lost at the state of humanity. In that moment, the world felt broken. There were so many lines of tension running through the plot points of current events, and the present seemed to be predictably spiraling out of control. Essentially the song is about that emotional tension and the pressures of living in a world that feels like it’s falling apart.”
The band recently signed to Fierce Panda Records Canada and will release their sophomore album sometime in 2020. “Fractured State” follows on from the first track released from the upcoming album, the track “Conflicted/Restricted“.
Tourist Company is a Vancouver-based musical duo that consists of Swindells and Brenon Parry, formed in 2013. They released their debut album, Apollo, in 2016.