Report Suspicious Activity - Report Suspicious Activity (Cover Artwork)

Report Suspicious Activity

Report Suspicious Activity: Report Suspicious ActivityReport Suspicious Activity (2005)
Alternative Tentacles

Reviewer Rating: 3

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

I had been living in New York and using the subway system for less than a month when the events of September 11, 2001 took place. Still, even with such little exposure to the transit system, I quickly noticed the differences in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Each subway car was now adorned with .
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I had been living in New York and using the subway system for less than a month when the events of September 11, 2001 took place. Still, even with such little exposure to the transit system, I quickly noticed the differences in the wake of the terrorist attacks. Each subway car was now adorned with an American flag sticker, police officers were present in many stations, and it was easy to spot a new sign that stated, "If you see something, say something." It was this sign that kept creeping into my consciousness while listening to Report Suspicious Activity's self-titled debut. Now, this was not simply because of the band's name, but because their entire aesthetic from lyrics to artwork will always date this album as a post-9/11 Bush-era release.

Report Suspicious Activity sound like the sum of their parts. Vic Bondi of Articles of Faith and J. Robbins, now famed producer, and former member of Jawbox and Burning Airlines, along with drummer D. Zentek, belt out some hard rocking songs that recall the rooted-in-hardcore post-punk of `90s Dischord bands. Bondi's voice is strong yet clear, matching passion with articulation, while the music shifts from subdued crunch to straight out driving hard rock

Opener "Hardball" charges in with distorted bass, pounding drums, and a shrieking lead before it flip-flops back and forth between Bondi's shouted verses and a very melodic and more contained chorus. "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S." is based around a wah riff and a bit of a funky drumbeat, while songs like "Guantanamo," "Under the Hill," and "Subtle" are much more straightforward punk songs, and songs like "The Night of 1000 Lies" and "Patriot Act" are simply balls out rock songs. The band does a good job of diversifying their sound -- even if it does come off strange at points -- like the way "The Evil That They Do" plays like a darker version of Hot Hot Heat's "Talk to Me, Dance With Me."

Much like a band such as Challenger, Report Suspicious Activity pay homage to the D.C. sound while also incorporating some new ideas and modern elements. The problem is that most of the new elements they assimilate into their tone are like the "If you see something, say something" sign that has been added to MTA stations after September 11. From song titles like "Hardball," "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." "Guantanamo," and "Patriot Act," to a sample of George W. Bush and myopic political lyrics, Report Suspicious Activity are limiting themselves to the current socio-political landscape. Lines like, "Think you've found some balls watching Rush," and "We're the weapons of mass destruction," don't seem like they will pack the same punch, nor hold the same relevance in just a few years time.

Luckily, Bondi and company do leave the Bush regime to cover issues that are a bit more universal like apathy towards creating political change and the false self-image that is created by television. Also, the music itself will probably not seem dated as it draws on many sources, new and old. Still, bands like Strike Anywhere or Propaghandi tackle contemporary issues in their lyrics, yet manage to tie those issues in with larger concerns. They do not seem to have limited themselves to a specific time and political culture, a fault that seems to restrict the future relevance of Report Suspicious Activity.


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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.
joeg (February 21, 2006)

i listened to some of the mp3s on AT. i'll be picking this up soon.

GreenVandal (February 12, 2006)

I like that night of a thousand lies song but nothing else is doing it for me...I had hope for thisd one too :/

Anonymous (February 11, 2006)

This album rocks. Each song seems to be a different style, nd they all work pretty well.

It sounds even better when I'm high.

As for the politics limiting the record, I disagree. Some of my favorite bands have written songs and albums dedicated to actual things that are happening. Songs about ideologies & broad topics are great too, but there will always be room for punk rock that tackles the issues of the day.

That sounded lame. Im bad at thinking.

But yeah, revenge was instantly my favorite song off the album. Then Subtle, then The patriot act.


feeeding5000 (February 11, 2006)

I've only heard two songs by them (On the AT Batcast, Jesse!) and they both seemed great. I will definitely check this out. Not a huge fan of Articles of Faith, but I do like DC post-hardcore.

Anonymous (February 10, 2006)

I dunno, "Reagan's In" is still just as cool 20 some year down the line. Making a punk album in an attempt to "date well" is faulty.

Anonymous (February 10, 2006)

RSA is so relevent to society.

there is no limiting RSA in the future. Strike Anywhere can't cop all political consciousness from the comfort of their major label studios.

nor can anyone else.

sure songs preaching to the choir might get old but if the choir doesn't sing nobody will.

BrandonSideleau (February 10, 2006)

This is a REAlly really cool record

rkl (February 10, 2006)

eerie coincidence that this gets posted on the same day as channels news.
the government is watching

lushj (February 10, 2006)

Your fixation on whether it'll age well is odd. Lyrics about over-reaching government surveilance and death-causing government lies are, unfortunately all too relevant decade after decade. Just listened to the DKs "The Owl" and while that tune namechecks Watergate, it's still way-too-relevant today. I think this record's themes will be equally relevant in 20 years, although the names of the politicians/pundits may be different.

As a record, this one fucking rocks. I work for AT, but keep in mind I don't champion all of the AT releases which get reviewed here or elsewhere. We release too much of a wide range of records for any of us to like every single one.

Anonymous (February 10, 2006)


Anonymous (February 10, 2006)

Wow. Sometimes Will can be an asswad.

I want to check this album out.

Anonymous (February 10, 2006)

This reviewer is a moron.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most unique socio-political punk albums of the last few years. Yeah, the lyrics are not vague. That's what makes it great.

So many bands get wrapped up in these grandiose allusions and metaphors for the government and whatnot that it's really refreshing to have some pure outspoken commentary that's not merely "George Bush sucks!!!"


TheOneTrueBill (February 10, 2006)

This is a really good album once you listen to all of it. Taken individually the songs aren't that great but when you listen for 50 minutes, it just hits you. I was really surprised by how much I liked it after giving it a few listens.

Anonymous (February 10, 2006)

Pretty decent album, but it just hasn't really hit me quite yet. I'll keep listening to it and see if something more comes to me.

givemeamuseumandillfillit (February 10, 2006)

This one rocks like a mutha!

Anonymous (February 10, 2006)

Oh Vic Bondi is back in the punk scene after abandoning it in the 1990's? Welcome back, what Microsoft didn't pay enough?

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