The near legendary BYO Split Series returns with their fourth volume, this
time bringing together New Jersey's Bouncing Souls and Pittsburgh's Anti-Flag.
Volume three, which paired up NOFX and Rancid, was a lot of fun, but I'm glad
that this time around the bands chose to contribute some great original
The Bouncing Souls are a band close to my heart. They play an infectious mix
of `77 style punk with strong pop sensibilities. As a band they're always
energetic, inspiring and seem to be having far more fun then most of their
peers. That being said the Souls half of the split is a complete joy. "Punks In
Vegas" follows the tried and true Souls formula of fast punk that builds to
an introspective anthem. "No Security" is one of the fastest, hardest
hitting Souls tunes in recent memory and easily comparable with their early
material. The other original is "Bryan's Lament" with bassist
Bryan Kienlen covering the vocals. The band does a spirited cover of Anti-Flag's
"That's Youth" and pay homage to their influences with a great shout along
of Cock Sparrer's "We're Coming Back." Their final song is a cover of "Less Than Free" by
fellow New Jersey band Sticks and Stones.
I've never been a fan of Anti-Flag. Don't get me wrong though, politically we're on the
same page and I think they get undue amounts of silly criticism, I
just find their style rather restrictive. It seems to me often that they've
painted themselves into a corner stylistically and lack the subtlety that so
many of the great political punk bands had. However I was pleasantly surprised
with their half of the split. "America Got It Right,"
"Smash It To Pieces" and "Gifts From America: With Love, the USA" are catchy political rants that A-F fans have come to expect. The
band's commentary attacks the 'war on terrorism,' which makes their
lyrics a bit more focused then some of the more generic rally-cries they've done
in the past. "No Borders, No Nations" has Chris #2 on vocals and
sounds more in line with Strike Anywhere's latest material. The band covers the
Bouncing Souls' "The Freaks, Nerds & Romantics," which is a
refreshing change of pace for Anti-Flag and brings to mind how many similarities
the two East Coast bands really share. Their final song is a faithful cover of the
Buzzcocks classic "Ever Fallen in Love," which features some fantastic
vocal harmonies and is just as catchy and fun as the original. The covers allow
the band to step outside their typical political angle and keeps their half of
the split sounding fresh.
The covers on this album really help highlight the bands' individual
influences. Its always great to hear the Souls paying tribute to a band like
Cock Sparrer and its awesome to hear Anti-Flag acknowledge the influence the
Buzzcocks had on their sound. Once again, BYO's put together a great all-around
package when it comes to the liner notes. Jim Testa of the Jersey Beat zine
toasts the Bouncing Souls and Nicky Garrett of the UK Subs and New Red Archives
writes about Anti-Flag. Definitely check this one out.