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Written by: Alex Sandell
Free Thing # 9
still believe, this aristocracy gives a fuck about you? They put the
'mock' in 'demockracy,' and you swallowed every hook. So go back to your
crib and suck on a tit. Go bask in the warmth of your diaper. You're
sitting in shit and piss while sucking a huge pacifier."
The War on Errorism
This CD was only "semi"-free. Fat Wreck Chords didn't bother to send me a review copy (the cheap bastards), so I thought I was out of luck. Then some dude, who's apparently been holding this pent-up rage deep inside of him, since I reviewed the last full-length NOFX album, almost three years ago, burned this one for me, and sent me the burned copy, along with a note reading, in part, "you better fucking like this one DICK!" Uh ... okay. I actually didn't dislike the previous one. Anyway, the reason the "totally free" burned copy became "semi-free," is because, after hearing it, I went out and bought the actual disc. Proving that, I actually did like this one better. Please don't kill me, hostile guy with pent-up rage.
Now that rage-filled guy's hopefully stopped reading, I can admit that I have a lot of the same complaints with The War on Errorism, as I did with NOFX's last full-length record of new material. In my review of Pump up the Valuum, I complained that a lot of the songs sounded the same, that there weren't enough choruses, or memorable moments, and that a lot of the music, and lyrics, sounded like rehashes of past NOFX stuff. The identical things can be said now, three years later, regarding The War on Errorism. But, while Pump up the Valuum was a step down for NOFX, The War on Errorism is a small step in the right direction. While it doesn't approach NOFX's glory days, which began with 1990's Ribbed, and ended after 1994's, Punk in Drublic, it is just a little bit closer to those punk rock classics than their last few records were, and that's close enough to get slightly excited about, in a "not-really-that-excited" sorta way.
It's common knowledge, to those with any fucking knowledge that is remotely "common," that punk has been dying since Green Day made their major label debut, with Dookie (ironically, that's when most of the new "punk" rockers first heard of the "scene"). Since punk entered this shitty new millennium, it's only gotten two billion times worse (Avril Lavigne, anyone? I hope not.). During the last couple of years, there has been next to nothing for a discriminating punker to listen to, outside of his or her old records, singles and CDs. NOFX's lead singer, Fat Mike, has quite obviously taken note of this, but, ironically, his band's new CD is debatably part of the problem, more than it is a solution.
Is punk dead? Sadly, the answer is probably yes. Is The War on Errorism so good, it can wake the dead? No. But it makes for an okay looking corpse, and that's better than anything I thought I'd ever hear from NOFX, ever again. Here's the detailed review:
Separation of Church and Skate:
"When did punk rock become so safe? When did the scene become a joke? I want conflict and dissent. I want the scene to represent our hatred of authority. Where is the violent apathy? These fuckin' records are rated G." This is all fine and good, and I agree with these lyrics, but if NOFX wants punk rock to go back to being "dangerous," why don't they go old-school, and play people's basements, rather than the fucking WARPED Tour (which happens to have matinee shows, which the band also bitches about in this song)? Why don't they stop thanking the corporations that gave and give them free instruments, and the companies that send them free shoes ("Vans"), on their CDs? And, most of all, why the FUCK didn't they dare put "Idiot Son of an Asshole" -- arguably the most controversial song on the album, and definitely the best -- on the actual CD, rather than on the "enhanced CD," as a video clip of the band, "courtesy of The WARPED Tour" (IE - "'punk' rock for sellout rich kids with too much time on their hands")? NOFX should stop bitching about people "playing it safe," when they're doing exactly that. Musically, The Separation of Church and Skate is almost an exact remake of The Death of John Smith, from the The Longest Line EP. That tune was great, and it still is. There's enough variety in this one to give it a damn high rating, no matter how much I bitch about it. (Bitching is punk, right?)
9 (on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best. And, if you didn't know that 10 is the best, you should probably go shoot yourself.)
Irrationality of Rationality:
"The board was getting anxious and the shareholders were on the bed, legs in the air, ass cheeks opened wide. They were about to get fucked, like it was their first time. When one makes 20 million, 10,000 people lose what keeps that one from swallowing a shotgun." We're only on song number 2, and we're already on the first song with no fucking chorus, the same rapid-fire drums we've heard 1,000 fucking times, and a sound that you can't quite place, but you know sounds exactly like another NOFX song you've already fucking heard. Still, it's one of the better NOFX songs that you know you've already fucking heard. The lyrics save it, along with the catchy way that Fat Mike spits them out. Plus, you can skate to it, and that's all that matters, right? Skating. It's yummy!
"I wanna move north and be a Canadian, or hang down under with the nice Australians. I don't wanna be another 'I don't care-ican.' What are we gonna do, Franco Un-American?" This song should be considered a national treasure. Mike really spells it out, and his spelling is absolutely perfect! He starts the song talking about how his ignorance was blissful, and how life was better before he took notice of how bad everyone -- animals and humans -- were suffering due to his "bliss." In other words, he was a typical greedy-ass loser American citizen, believing that he was entitled to far more than he deserved. We all have to share. We all have to care. We all have to give. If Americans lived and gived like the lyrics in this song, the WTC woulda probably never been hit by hijacked planes. I love this song so damn much, I'll forgive the, "the president's stoked, cuz we voted for Nader" line. It's a sorry and misguided collection of turdy words on a CD that includes a compelling 8 minute trailer for a documentary on how Bush stole the election. Maybe Mike didn't notice, but Nader had nothing to do with the theft. The song is easily still one of the best punk rock numbers in a lot of years. I betcha around a buck that that's why it's the single.
are Taking Over:
"There's no point for Democracy when ignorance is celebrated. Political scientists get the same one vote as some Arkansas inbred. So what are we left with? A nation of God fearing pregnant Nationalists, who feel it's their duty to populate the 'homeland.'" Woo-hoo! Although I honestly don't believe that a higher IQ should mean that you get more votes (that's not a Democracy, anymore than a redneck hick piece of shit becoming president, because the "Supreme" Court -- majority Republican --decided that he should be), I do think the lyrics make a solid point. What the hell has gone wrong with my country? The most "powerful" man in the world is also the dumbest. I remember a time when the President of the United States of America actually had to be intelligent to win an election, and actually had to win the election, to become the President. The idiots ARE taking over, and if you voted for Bush, you are one of them. Any person who can still support Bush, after he's fucked up THE ENTIRE WORLD as badly as he has, makes me wanna puke. And anyone who can still support Bush, after he's fucked up THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA as badly as he has, is far, far dumber than the dumbest of the mentally handicapped. So, do I like the song? Again, the lyrics save it. Otherwise, it's been done 3,000,000 times, by NOFX themselves, not to mention a million other bands. But the ska part is neat, even though I was under the impression that NOFX were no longer doing Ska. What's the deal here? A mediocre song, with great words. Okay, it's sorta a little better than mediocre, but the lyrics were so worthy of better music.
"It was time for us to leave, so I grabbed and shook her sleeve, and told her I'd see her at the next club. She got into a pack, and some guy put her on his back, she said 'goodbye' and kinda waved her stub. She's got beautiful eyes, and breasts regular size, but without calves and thighs, she's nubs." This comes off as sort of a mean-spirited song, disguising itself as a "tribute" to a girl with no arms and legs. Musically, it's one of the best songs on the album. Irony finds new definition in the fact that the NOFX song about a girl with no legs, makes me want to jump around and dance, like no other.
"A neighborhood for punks over the hill. We're spendin' our golden years, in Mattersville." The keyboards are super groovy nifty, and add variety to the CD. The lyrics aren't nearly as clever as Fat Mike inevitably thought they were, when he wrote them. But, like Theme from a Punk Rock Record on Pump up the Valuum, it's sort of amusing to hear punks talk about growing richer, fatter and older than they were the year before. It doesn't belong on this more political NOFX release, though. It'd fit in with Heavy Petting Zoo, and that's about it.
"She's so innocent, but guilty's her plea. Everybody wants to save her from herself. They really want to save themselves." We all know the story of chicks like that (it was told on the far superior White Trash, Two Heebs and a Bean), and we all know the characteristics of those desperate to "save" her. The other thing we all know is that this is NOFX at its most generic. Yeah, the goof-monkey elitist freaks at the next Warp Tour can slam to it. Whatever. It's not the worst song I've ever heard, and it beats everything currently played on the radio, so I won't totally dick it over, but I'll come damn close to ... um ... "dicking."
"Medio-core, it's under powered, the riffs are all deflowered. It's spreading faster than British tooth decay. 'Are you ready to rock?' 'How you all doin' tonight?' You condescending fucks make me want to puke and laugh the same." This is essentially Please Play This Song on the Radio, revisited. It's not nearly as good as Please Play This Song on the Radio, but nothing NOFX does is ever as good as what they did in the early 1990s. Like Please Play This Song on the Radio, Medio-core is intentionally catchy and deliberately crappy. It's just that, back when Please Play this Song on the Radio was released in '92, NOFX was significantly better than the skatecore bands they were making fun of. Now they sort of are those bands. Which sucks. But the song doesn't suck as much as the suckiness of what sucks about it. It's actually kinda good. At least if you ignore the fact that the exact same thing was done, and done far better, 11 years ago (man, do I feel old).
"Reckless acts of dumbness will be rewarded. If you see somebody taking charge, you'll be expected to beat them." I'm sure Mike thought this was scathing satire, but it's pretty weak, lyrically. It's never funny, and I know he can (at least he could) do better. Musically, it's pretty generic, also. Typical ska, which NOFX swore they swore off. But, it's actually sort of fun sounding. You may say dorky things such as "nifty" after hearing it, even if saying "nifty" is giving it too much praise.
Errorist: (I Hate Hate Haters):
"We finally have a common cause, a catalyst. A reason to stand as a united front. It's up to us to expose and humiliate the Errorists. The American Errorists. We'll start with just one, the war has just begun." This song could be super easily confused, by the stupid. If you understand that it's basically "Dubya" and his followers singing it, you'll get the "joke." It talks about hate not being so bad, when it's against "evil doers." But who are these evil doers? Are they simply U.S. citizens, that don't agree with Bush's bullshit ("legal in all 50 states ... so far")? Does only George & Company get to decide? Good questions posed by a below average song. It's short and fast, both of which are good, but there's nothing to remember it by, which sucks. The end -- when the band starts chanting and yelling simultaneously -- turns it into a bad Twisted Sister tune. As a matter of fact, other than the lyrics, this song is really not so actually good.
We Got 2
"We got two Declines, two Damaged. And two Jealous Agains." If you don't get the words in this song, you don't know punk, you aren't punk, and you will probably never understand "punk," much less be it. Like Mike before me, I'm not going to explain this tune to you. If you can't figure it out, go buy some popular MTV band, which I'm unaware of, because I don't watch MTV. A very good song, even for the useless dildos who will never understand it, unless maybe they do (then, would they still be "useless?"). "31 minutes of Group Sex" is a line so classic, I'm tempted to ask a bunch of uppity symphony folk to compose it. Did I just use the word, "folk?" And "uppity?" And "symphony?" Oh, good golly! Did I just use the word "golly?" AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
"The first time I saw the Descendents, they were the fastest band I'd ever seen. No one in the crowd really cared for them, we were waiting for the Alley Cats to play." Fat Mike ups the punk rock nostalgia factor, and it works (unless you're under about 28). There's not really a chorus, but the whole song works as a catchy thingie sort of thing. It reminds me of times that I so fondly remember. This song causes me to recollect the years when punk wasn't crappy and corporate. And it's a good tune, even though it's in need of a fucking chorus.
"And you still believe, this aristocracy gives a fuck about you? They put the 'mock' in 'demockracy,' and you swallowed every hook. So go back to your crib and suck on a tit. Go bask in the warmth of your diaper. You're sitting in shit and piss while sucking a huge pacifier." This is about as good as a generic hardcore skate punk song can get. These kind of lyrics, this kind of anger, is what puts NOFX back on a map that I thought that they had left long ago. The War on Errorism has nerve. It's not the kinda nerve CRASS displayed "back in the day," but it's nerve, nonetheless. The song is like a big "middle-finger" to the Bush Administration. I admire it for that, if not for any other reason.
"I never meant to be the one who took the fall. I got lost in the moment, assholes test the limit." Unless this is some suicide note, the song is pointless. It goes nowhere, lyrically, or musically. It's not painful to get through, and you actually remember it when it's over, but you do question why. It's a poor closing to a fairly good CD (and remember what I said in my review of Valuum, about the importance of going out on a strong note). IF this CD woulda ended with Idiot Son of an Asshole, my rating woulda been so fucking much higher (you do the math. I'd give that song a 10, rather than the "3" I gave this pile of poo.).
OVERALL RATING - NOFX's The War on Errorism gets an average of 6.71 Juicy squirts out of a possible 10 ejaculations. This beats the 6.14 that their last CD received! Not by a whole big bunch, but it's a definite improvement. And, in my opinion, it's the first NOFX record really worth spending more than $8.00 on, since 1994's, Punk in Drublic.
Now, you young punks out there ... send me some UNDERGROUND bands (or just their CDs or LPs) to renew my faith in CURRENT punk rock music. I will review them. My address is below. Convince me of how wrong I am, and prove to me that punk isn't really dead!
Oh, and if you read this update send me feedback!
HEY!!! Do you have something to promote? I'll review ANYTHING. Fanzines, magazines, CDs, DVDs, videos, toys, comic books, novels, nude photographs; whatever you send me, I'll review it! I can't promise a GOOD review, since some of things you send me will indefinitely suck shit, but I CAN promise a review, and an address where a person can find the thing I'm reviewing. Even if I hate the damn thing, you're still getting free promotion (if it's good enough for Alice, damnit, it's good enough for you!)! It doesn't even have to be a product that you're involved with! If you've got something you'd like on The Juicy Cerebellum, send it to:
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Review of NOFX's "Pump up the Valuum" CD
Review of Alice Cooper's "Brutal Planet" CD
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The War on Errorism
cover, and quoted lyrics, are copyright ©2003 Alex
Sandell [All Rights Reserved]. Copy this, without my permission, and
I'll follow you to work and rip loud farts.
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