album reviews

Strike Anywhere
Dead FM
Fat Wreck Chords (2006)

Since the Ramones first started banging out simple chords in the 1970s, the punk/hardcore scene has been constantly regenerating to invigorate younger generations, and Richmond quintet Strike Anywhere has been bubbling with a fiery intensity since its formation in 1999. On "Dead FM," the musicians show no sign of slowing down as they churn through stock punk songs at a dizzying pace -- none of the album's 14 tracks is longer than three minutes.

Despite the political nature of their songs, they manage to sound more enthusiastic than angry and are more likely to inspire dancing than rioting. The chant of "We'll take back everything they steal!" ("The Promise") captures the triumphant stick-it-to-the-man spirit of Green Day, and singer Thomas Barnett's vocals on "Two Thousand Voices" channel the melodies of Jimmy Eat World pushed to a frantic speed by an unrelenting rhythm section.

"Dead FM's" liner notes are packed full of anecdotes and explanations, which often provide a personal angle to the songs' fierce sentiments: Barnett describes his grandfather's involvement in the Manhattan Project ("Sedition") and the group's 2003 incarceration in and deportment from Japan ("House Arrest"). But often, the group's text veers into grandiose statements ("Punk has always been a place for solidarity and liberation from ignorance and religious prejudice") or unnecessary clarifications ("This here song talks about belief systems and demagogues") instead of letting the songs speak for themselves.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 1 September 2006, Page WE08
.: Dead FM on