"Does the word 'duh' mean anything to you?"
Lagwagon were the first band signed to Fat Wreck Chords, and along with founder Fat Mike's NOFX as well as No Use for a Name and Propaghandi, Lagwagon had a major hand in shaping the sonic aesthetics of the label early on, a sound that was cohesive enough for a teenage Greg0rb to mail-order things from the label's print zine without even hearing a note. In my opinion, Lagwagon were the best at this "sound," hell, they were better at what NOFX did than NOFX was themselves--they were faster, played their instruments more proficiently, and had better singing and more well-crafted lyrics. I always loved NOFX but I love love Lagwagon.
Lagwagon ruled hardest for me because every single element of the band is skate punk perfection. Derrick Plourde was a drumming hero of mine, and the album is full of inventive beats within an oft-constricting genre, and fills that were both lighting fast and intricate. Bassist Jesse Buglione could put any showy guitarist in their place, playing both tastefully and expertly--the intro of "Give It Back" is an excellent example. Guitarists Chris "Big Bitch" Flippin and Shawn Dewey were a huge part of the Lagwagon sound with agile runs and enough speed to keep up with the best of 'em--just check out "Coffee and Cigarettes." Vocalist Joey Cape has always been at the top of the heap in the genre, with lyrics both well-constructed and meaningful, but also frequently fun as hell.
To sum it up, Lagwagon is a bunch of metal heads playing punk. Their 1992 debut "Duh" was rough around the edges and showed their metal and hardcore influences thoroughly, with lots of shredding guitars with that buzzsaw tone and singer Joey Cape giving it some grit and plenty of youthful anger. But by Trashed they had stepped up their game tenfold, keeping the metal technicality without sounding outright metal. The vocals got a pinch cleaner and the melodies and lyrics were tighter. Didn't hurt that the production was more crisp and powerful too.
They kept the minor-key angry songs, like opener "Island of Shame" which shows their socially-conscious side rallying against homophobes in a small town. They also kept the silliness, from the youthful destruction of "Stokin' the Neighbors," the drinkin' n' fightin' song "Goin' South," and secret track parody of LL Cool J, theirs titled "Mama Said Back One Out" about, well, taking a shit. Their double-time cover of "Brown Eyed Girl" (as well as Duh's "Bad Moon Rising") set the template for Me First and Gimme Gimmes' take on the classics.
But more important than all this, on Trashed Lagwagon honed their pop chops. While Duh was primarily minor key angry stuff, here we get some killer hooks in songs that remain live staples to this day. A big one is "Know It All," the tale of a hipster before the term came to prominence, a song confronting those who cry "sellout". They took their melodic prowess to its apex on their third album Hoss, my personal favorite, but many prefer this album for its balance of melody and riffage.
Lagwagon is about to put out a new album, 26 years after their formation. While their work is sporadic these days, Trashed shows an excited young band just showing their promise and dominance of the genre. Poppy and technical, Trashed will always be a classic skate punk album, and one of Fat's best releases.