NOFX Coaster (Fat Wreck Chords)
How do you keep your edge in an industry that moves faster than a celebrity’s ghost tweeter, much less satisfy your ever growing fan base after a span of 25 years? If you were taking a page out of NOFX’s book, then the answer is simple: Keep it real.
Fat Mike (vocals, bass) and the boys – Eric Melvin (guitar, vocals), Erik Sandin (drums) and El Hefe (guitar, trumpet, vocals) have emerged with their 12th consecutive album that has their seal of punk branded on every track. These guys are hailed as trailblazers in the punk rock genre for late Gen X-ers especially during the early to mid 90’s revival of the punk rock/skate punk movement – cases in point: The Offspring, Green Day, Bad Religion, Rancid, etc.
NOFX doesn’t disappoint with Coaster released on Fat Mike’s very own Fat Wreck Chords label which houses some of today’s influential acts on the punk scene. As usual, no subject is taboo and it doesn’t warrant any raised eyebrows especially when their material isn’t on heavy rotation on radio nor video veins. The band still exercises wit-whipped rantings on politics combined with their ever-evolving take on the usual subjects of religion, racism, inequality, capitalism and society in general. I have personally always admired their talent for witty word play and to have lyrics that make you smile, wince, frown and laugh out loud, all the while tapping your feet to the fast, melodic beats and riffs, it’s not something to sniff at.
Coaster kicks off with a fast punk rock track entitled We Called It America, a political satire on the current state of the country commencing with, “Remember when America had a middle class, and an upper class, that was way before the exodus…” and finishing off with “National bankruptcy, circumcised society, USA dined and ditched, Fox reports: poor is the new rich…”. The provocative riff on this track with Fat Mike’s trademark tone (turning the bass and treble all the way up, and the mids all the way down) is highly addictive.
The band’s take on religion is covered with Best God in Show and Blasphemy (The Victimless Criminals) sharing insights such as “Horus similar to Mithra, Attis analogous to Krishna, Jesus – different name same story, all based on ancient Egyptian allegory…”, which leads me to believe that the subject has been either thoroughly researched or that they’re recent viewers of the documentary Zeitgeist.
Tracks worthy of mention (if not every single one of them) include; Creeping Out Sara, a slower paced, tongue-in-cheek account of a back-stage conversation on lesbianism with either Tegan or Sara Quinn (Mike isn’t sure), one of the identical twins from band Tegan and Sara. Another track is the hilarious Eddie, Bruce and Paul which pays homage to Iron Maiden’s mascot and members (Dickinson and former Paul DiAnno) with a love triangle scenario, complete with the trademark Dickinson falsetto and the heavy metal guitar riffs.
The Agony of Victory (as opposed to the agony of defeat) is the band dealing with their success in a nonchalant manner, citing “We’ve got no competition, we’ve got no accomplished mission…” and My Orphan Year is a track where Mike speaks of his parents’ recent demise and memories of his lonely childhood.
The final track of the album aptly titled One Million Coasters is a dig at the music industry, coasters, frisbees and Christmas tree ornaments are one of the many current and future uses of compact discs (CDs), which would be the jest of the album’s chosen title.
Expect dives into ska and hard rock styles with a couple of the tracks, not overtly overwhelming but definitely in line with the messages and subjects in question. Again, not the best album from NOFX, if you’re using Punk in Drublic (1994) as a benchmark but definitely one for the fans and followers alike. Why? Because these guys are keeping it real.
Strictly for fans: NOFX have also released a DVD in March this year titled NOFX: Backstage Passport, which showcases their stints and stunts during their tour stops in countries where they felt punk music wasn’t too popular and this includes their antics during their stop in Singapore in 2007.