My first musical love, as I’ve professed before, was pop-punk. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a passion for acoustic music. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that, in my book, acoustic punk is one of the best ideas ever. Violent Femmes ftw. Also Andrew Jackson Jihad.
Attica! Attica! knows acoustic punk/folk punk. This makes sense once you know that the only member is punk lifer Aaron Scott, who (amongst other credentials) sang for De La Hoya and Marathon, runs a blog about house shows and other DIY life, wrote this great piece about sexism in punk and is the type of guy who posts his correctly-punctuated lyrics prominently on his website. It’s safe to say that Scott’s spent a lot of time writing songs and thinking about stuff. It’s not surprising that Napalm & Nitrogen is awesome.
If AJJ has the hyperactive “We Didn’t Come Here to Rock” as its shout-it-out winner, this album has “Hobo Chili.” It’s unsurprisingly about lovely house shows and celebrating local culture. (Proposed alternate title: “Keep Everywhere Weird.”) The lyrics are incredibly literate, eschewing a repeated chorus slogan and instead using the same meter and melody with new lyrics each time. Don’t worry, there’s a huge “whoa-oh” section so you can sing along, even if it’s the first time you’ve heard the tune. It won’t take you long to remember the fascinating lyrics, but Scott is the type of guy who knows his strengths are also limitations and throws noobs a bone. I appreciated it.
Oh, and it’s hyperactive as anything.
As with the best punk (and this is some of the very best), the album is immediately lovable for its energy, melodies, attitude and random slogans you catch on the first listen (“THERE’S A WAREHOUSE SHOW! OUT IN NEW MEXICOOOO!”), but it’s even more enjoyable once you catch all the lyrics and think about what he’s saying. Lots of bands have the first half, but not many get to the second part.
That’s why you should purchase Napalm & Nitrogen instead of something else: “I Knew I Shoulda Taken That Left Turn at Albuquerque” is brave enough to acknowledge the truth that sometimes life on the road (which is rightly celebrated elsewhere) just sucks. “The Children of the Broken Glass” is the honest-but-yet-hopeful story of the Millenials; lots of people want to be the voice of a generation, but they haven’t written “The Children,” have they? “The End of Art” is too brilliant for me to try to fit it into a sentence. It also is a great vehicle for more whoa-ohs (I’ll never get enough) and Scott’s intense, impassioned voice. His distinct pipes are yet another reason this album is great.
I could keep listing great things about this incredible album for a long time: DIY attitude, mellow piano tunes, an accordion in “The Good Ones Go First” … but if you aren’t sold by now, you won’t be. That’s your loss.