Shots Heard 'Round the World
Owing a large stylistic debt to the working class ethos of the Jam, Stiff Little Fingers, and early Clash, Chicago's the Strike busts forth with its second album, Shots Heard 'Round the World , a record of mod-ish '77 punk that's almost too catchy for its own good. Far removed from both lame nostalgia and dippy rollerblading music (i.e., '90s "punk"), the Strike puts the emphasis on the simple, catchy -- or simply catchy? -- songwriting instead of rocking out or polka dancing. Tempos hardly stray from a pogo-friendly mid-tempo, but never seem repetitively cookie-cutter. With hooky, finger-raising choruses that adequately sidestep overly blue-collar-ness (i.e., Oi), vocalist Chad makes like a gruffier Paul Weller and firmly places his working class tales into anthem status. To top it all off, trumpets occasionally accent the taut hooks, making the melodies so sickeningly sweet that humming along is mandatory. Now if Marxism only sounded this good all the time...
Victory Records, P.O. Box 146546, Chicago, IL 60614; http://www.victoryrecords.com
--Nathan T. Birk