Garrison - Be a Criminal (Cover Artwork)


Garrison: Be a CriminalBe a Criminal (2001)
Revelation Records

Reviewer Rating: 4.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: funkisdeadfunkisdead
(others by this writer | submit your own)

In 2001 Garrison released their third record, Be a Criminal, and nowhere near enough people noticed. On this record the Boston quartet fuse inspiring melodic themes, crushing guitar riffs, and dynamic drumming with thought-provoking lyrics. J. Robbins (of Jawbox/Burning Airlines) ably mans the 24-tr.
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In 2001 Garrison released their third record, Be a Criminal, and nowhere near enough people noticed. On this record the Boston quartet fuse inspiring melodic themes, crushing guitar riffs, and dynamic drumming with thought-provoking lyrics. J. Robbins (of Jawbox/Burning Airlines) ably mans the 24-track, and the group has never sounded better. Guitars roar, cymbals splash. Intricate bass lines rest comfortably in the mix.

Lyrically, Be a Criminal explores the darker side of human behavior. Titles like "Recognize an Opportunity," "Cover the Tracks With Cash," and "Catch Your Breath and Have a Cigarette" mask lyrical content. They strengthen lyrical threads that pop up throughout the album. When read in consecutive order, they serve as a checklist for prospective criminals... a terse reminder of the ease with which crimes can be committed.

The group tends to offset catchy melodies and sugary harmonies with jarringly dark lyrical imagery. As clichéd as it may seem, these guys actually pull it off. Garrison let their dark lines resonate in a societal context. "Dump the Body," for example, is full of menacing urban mantras. Simple phrases like "I'm going to get some blood on my hands" and "I could point a finger but I'd rather point a gun" cynically symbolize the prevalent mindset of post-modern Americans.

The album's closer, "Accept What You've Done, Accept Who You Are" addresses the fine lines that divide stagnant monocultures. It is a poetic call to action, and arguably the lyrical apex of the record. The record's opener, "Recognize an Opportunity," begins with the repeated phrase "weigh anchor, draw the lines" set to an infectiously rocking musical backdrop. The listener gets the impression that said lines are drawn carelessly‚?¶ and forcefully. This last track, however, is a final condemnation of the mental and legal injustices that are addressed throughout the record, as well as a rejection of those lines that were so quickly drawn at the beginning of the album.

The music emphasizes this progression. The last track is the record's slowest number, with lots of ringing arpeggios and droning open strings. The lyrics of its second verse are particularly solid, so I'll include them here.

"The lines they fit us in are criminal,
Restrictive, bored and without grace
A passed on culture less than livable
With all the sights but not the taste.
Nowadays seems only surgery can make you come out clean."
Musically, these guys are just unbelievable‚?¶ Each track is a subtle reinvention of the group's sound. They are definitely influenced by Dag Nasty, Farside, Quicksand, and The Pixies, but they still manage to maintain a very unique musical identity. Their music is marginally similar to Rival Schools, but the songwriting is more developed, and the music has more drive. The complexity of the lyrics and the intensity of the music make this record a gem even after repeat listens.

It is difficult to select the finest moments on this record. The album's opener is a scorcher. "Know the Locale" is infused with a thick blues riff, cascading modal harmonies, and excellent drumming. "Focus, Focus, Focus" is a complicated, upbeat number, with some great lyrics. Each song is composed of several very different parts. Each part still manages to fit perfectly into the rest of the song. Every note seems to strengthen the album as a whole.

When the group slows down for "Commit, Commit, Commit," they remind me of their former label-mates, Elliott. The vocals sound a bit like Walter Schreifels crossed with that guy from The Get Up Kids. The whiny guy. I'm still deciding if that's a good thing‚?¶ This track may very well be the album's weakest moment, but it is still not a poor song. The record definitely needs the break in pace this track provides, but their execution isn't quite what I'd hoped for. There are some great harmonies, and some well-phrased lyrics, but the track seems to drag on for a bit too long. Like this review, I guess.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone who is into complex, melodic punk rock with strong lyrics and excellent musicianship. I bought this record on a whim the day it came out, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Plus, the second song on the record has a very, very badass whistling solo. Anyways, check them out. It may be in your best interests to pick this record up.


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Anonymous (June 25, 2004)

I saw them one time in Switzerland, only 50 people, but it was great! emo at his best!

Anonymous (December 21, 2003)

he fucked your girlfriend too?
what a ladies man, that funk.

Anonymous (December 20, 2003)

dear funkisdead,

stop stealing my stuff.

funkisdead (December 19, 2003)

Shut up.

Anonymous (December 19, 2003)

A whistling Solo?!? What the Fuck?

Okay kids, listen up and listen up good. There is only one band allowed to do that kind of shit on a record and that band is Yacopsae. Never heard of them? Not surprised.

They are a german turbo-thrash band that somehow manages to put a stupid whistle solo in a grindcore tune. Ya gotta hear it to believe it....

Anonymous (December 18, 2003)

i like the whistling solo!

Anonymous (December 18, 2003)

I'm not trying to sound like a dick here, but isn't complex, melodic punk rock kind of an oxymoron?

Anonymous (December 16, 2003)

professor arse is a cock sucking ball of hair. hmm... no. he is... just a fucking bastard!!! a silly, stupid bastard!!! take THAT!

and funk is a dude, not a babe. but he is still babelicious. this score is for sexy men, like mr. isdead.

slippy (December 16, 2003)

good review babe. i want to hear this now.


funkisdead (December 16, 2003)

thanks for the support, guys.

also, thanks for changing the score, scott.

Anonymous (December 16, 2003)

hahah garrison...
did you ask mr hat?

Anonymous (December 16, 2003)

thanks funk...
but it's funny - on my tsol review, i'm getting some nice comments but then on other people's reviews i get bashed. i guess you can't have it both ways.
...and scott's cool.

Anonymous (December 16, 2003)

scott is gay

maverick (December 16, 2003)


I fixed the score for you.


Jesse (December 16, 2003)

Yay! I want more reviews from funkisdead, because I tend to agree with this person's musical tastes. This record = a definate examination from me.

funkisdead (December 16, 2003)

Its a whistling solo... I think "badass" is the only possible way to describe it.
I suppose my score should have been a 9, or something, but you should be able to tell how I feel about the record by reading the review.
Oh, and Janelle = love.

Anonymous (December 16, 2003)

"but unlike Janelle or indagreenarse, you don't sound pretentious."


Anonymous (December 16, 2003)

It reads a bit too much like an essay.

Plus, "badass" and "apex" don't really belong in the same review.

The reviewer can't seem to decided whether he's the wise scholar or the brash punk rocker.

71 %

-Professor Arse

Anonymous (December 16, 2003)

Yeah, your vocabulary is good, but unlike Janelle or indagreenarse, you don't sound pretentious.

Anonymous (December 16, 2003)

Oi! Funkisdead - killer review debut!

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