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The GC5: Kisses From Hanoi/Horseshoes and HandgrenadesKisses From Hanoi/Horseshoes and Handgrenades (2003)
Reviewer Rating: 3.5
Contributed by: FortyMinutesWestFortyMinutesWest
(others by this writer | submit your own)
I’ve been to Cleveland twice, and both times it’s been a miserable experience. The first time, I nearly wrecked my car. The second time, I lost my keys and spent an entire day retracing my steps to get them back. So the way I look at it, Cleveland owes me. The GC5 is a start. Thick has re-issued the previously out of print “Kisses From Hanoi” LP and the import only EP “Horseshoes and Hand Grenades”, all on one neat little disc.
With this re-issue, you get 19 tracks of working class punk rock. Drawing influence from bands like The Dropkick Murphys and The Business, they’ve crafted an album that is melodic, yet aggressive, with some definite street punk sensibilities. Things get started off right with “Nothing but These Songs”, about taking strength from the music you listen to. Most of the songs on “Kisses From Hanoi” have a bit of a bit of a drinking song vibe, which is where the Dropkick Murphys comparison comes in. But don’t think these guys aren’t capable of being a little more aggressive. The song “Currency” starts out with some old fashion rock n’ roll guitar, before it shifts into high gear. This is easily the most intense song on the album. With cutting guitar, snarling vocals, and pounding drums. The shout along chorus also ensures that it is one the catchiest songs on the album. The thing that really surprised me was the guitar solo, as it had an almost Agent Orange feel to it. Bands of this type have a way of boring me, but The GC5 manage to inject their own style and originality to the mix.
“Horseshoes and Hand Grenades” which came out a year later than “Kisses From Hanoi”, has more of a melodic feel to it. That’s not to say its all flowers and sunshine, but the guitars have a lighter sound on this recording. But fear not, the gritty vocals are still intact. Aside from being more melodic than on “Kisses From Hanoi”, the guitar playing is also better on this EP. There’s no “Currency” on here, but the band still maintains its aggressive streak. “Bastards of Young” is the most powerful track on here, it’s thoroughly compelling. It compels me to get myself a beer, well, most things do that, but it usually doesn’t sound as good as this does. Overall, the EP is more solid, tight, and focused than the full-length. It provides a good look into what the future would hold for this band (i.e. “Never Bet The Devil Your Head”).
This band is like a precision machine, designed to play this style perfectly. The gritty, yet melodic vocals, the cutting guitar, the fantastic the bass playing (there’s some great scaling going on here), the heartfelt lyrics, everything falls into place rather nicely. It’s strange that this band hasn’t gotten more national attention. I can’t see how any fan of the Murphys or the Business would be disappointed by this release.
You should really check this band out; it’s abnormal for a band like this to really catch my attention, so you know they’re good. This music is as ideal for drinking a few rounds as it is for a class uprising, and neither would be done halfway.
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