Simply... Fuck Yea!! Upstate New York's Marathon have written a debut full-length album that I've gone totally ape over since first listen. Forging a sound that's as equally influenced by Bad Religion, NOFX, Green Day and Bigwig, as it is by Strike Anywhere, and the lead singer's previous band, (the highly underappreciated) De la Hoya, this album busts out from the seams with glorious, incredibly well sung vocals, and throttling, run-around-silly instrumentation. Intelligent, insightful, and fantastically political/sardonic lyrics take this band beyond the pale, and are the kind where you feel compelled to read every single word printed in the insert booklet.
Marathon's talents work in many ways - for those who grew up on a steady diet of early Fat and Epitpah bands, as well as Lifetime, these guys clearly appeal to that school of thought where punk rock could be humorous, serious, and intense, without necessarily being categorized past that. The expressions of music and thought that are put together here seem so incredibly pure when compared to those bands who emerge these days from their practice spaces with a marketing plan in hand.
Getting into the specifics, the thirteen songs that make up this album have a bit of a nervous twitch to them, throwing consistency of form into the wind. From the scorching forbidden-beat drumming of the second track, "I Don't Have A Dancing Problem," to the fast, acoustic theatrics of "Names Have Been Charged (To Protect The Guilty)," Marathon run on only one level: supercharged. Blazing guitars leave aural ectasy all over this album, and never tire via repetitive chugging or lazy chord progressions. Even when the tempos wind down to a middling range, like on the all-too-honest, "Where We Hide," the warped-yet-compelling lead vocals of Aaron Scott crackle like discharges of lightning. I had to play this song over and over again because the lyrics were too good to let go - "We must confess / Our lives are not really as hopeless, heartless, or haunted as we'd like to think / Yeah we're just privileged brats / And we barely understand what it means to be oppressed / We just crave something real to let out how we feel / So we can start making payments on our sizable emotional debt / We hide in the songs." Sure makes those songs about "bleeding mascara" seem like a pile shit, eh? This album continues to sizzle on the epic, I'm-not-ready-to-grow-up tale "Jolly Roger," and the culture-questiniong finale, "Courting My Soul." It's no surprise that some of the last words Marathon leaves the listener with on this album are "Have more to say to than just nodding our heads / This is my time, this my chance, I'm breaking out of this trance."
Marathon have managed to preserve their unique form of energy into the recording quality of this disc in fine fashion (and a huge step up from their debut EP). Tracked at Nada Recording Studio in New Windsor, NY, this album is convincingly loud and aggressive, in a brash, but professional sort of way. This may be a case of "reviewer's hindsight" more than anything else, but the recording style genuinely reflects the attitude of the band's music, rather than the usual case of a recording sounding "big" for the sake of sounding big.
Marathon have written one of my favorite albums of 2005 thus far. As I've already proceeded to practically memorize every part to this release, every listen becomes more and more engaging, to the point where I feel like these songs have become an extension of my life. The vocal talents of Aaron Scott must be experienced, and the band's "hit-you-from-all-sides" songwriting is just the kind of kick-in-the-crotch that makes one take pause. Wooooooooo!