Considering all the criticism that street punk gets from the broader music community for being overly simplistic or even mindless, it is a much more challenging genre than any SPIN-reading hipster could even imagine.
The guidelines for street punk are so rigid. The aesthetic is so important to the genre, almost to the point of being problematic. How do you start your own street punk band and make a name for your selves, but at the same time remain true to the street punk ideals? Several bands have been successful, but hundreds more have not. One new comer is Indianapolis act Counteractive.
At a first glance, Counteractive have all the all the visual points down: mighty mohawks, tight pants, sleeveless shirts and plenty of patches. But on their new album, Through It All, Counteractive prove that they are doing more than just playing by the rules -- they are crafting a noteworthy sound all their own.
The opener, "Pissed and Nailed" is a typical street punk anthem that should please any street punk fan. Through the shouts of "We won't give in! Fight back!" (which beg to be screamed along with), the band incorporates a hardcore energy but shows a catchier side that will give them the staying power that most bands don't have.
The next standout track is quite possibly the best track on the album. "Useless and Fed Up" is thematically similar to most semi-political street punk jams. The brooding guitar leads into some smart bass and drum work and then bursts into straight fury. If the chorus doesn't grab you by the ears, then there must be something wrong with you.
With "Go Political" and "Imperialist Dog," the band delves into a poppier vein than most of their peers, but with success. "Imperialist Dog" is the better of the two songs and is, actually, rather funny as the band takes "dog" beyond just an insult. It will also bury itself into your brain.
As the album winds down, the band picks up the pace with the brilliant class war anthem "Entropy." "What the hell are we fighting for?" chants the band, "A never-ending class war!". "Entropy" is definitely one of the best songs on the album and features some of the best musicianship from the band.
Despite all that Counteractive have to offer, Through It All is not a perfect effort. Some songs hit harder than others and some just seem like any two-bit street punk band could have written them, which Counteractive is clearly not. For a debut release however, Through It All is pretty damn good. Let's hope that on their next effort, the band harnesses the energy of songs like "Useless and Fed Up" and "Entropy" and moves in that direction. I'm eager to see what these guys do next.