Bouncing Souls/Anti-Flag - BYO Split Series Volume 4 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Bouncing Souls / Anti-Flag

BYO Split Series Volume 4 (2002)


The near legendary BYO Split Series returns with their fourth volume, this time bringing together New Jersey's Bouncing Souls and Pittsburgh's Anti-Flag. Volume three, which paired up NOFX and Rancid, was a lot of fun, but I'm glad that this time around the bands chose to contribute some great original material.

The Bouncing Souls are a band close to my heart. They play an infectious mix of `77 style punk with strong pop sensibilities. As a band they're always energetic, inspiring and seem to be having far more fun then most of their peers. That being said the Souls half of the split is a complete joy. "Punks In Vegas" follows the tried and true Souls formula of fast punk that builds to an introspective anthem. "No Security" is one of the fastest, hardest hitting Souls tunes in recent memory and easily comparable with their early material. The other original is "Bryan's Lament" with bassist Bryan Kienlen covering the vocals. The band does a spirited cover of Anti-Flag's "That's Youth" and pay homage to their influences with a great shout along of Cock Sparrer's "We're Coming Back." Their final song is a cover of "Less Than Free" by fellow New Jersey band Sticks and Stones.

I've never been a fan of Anti-Flag. Don't get me wrong though, politically we're on the same page and I think they get undue amounts of silly criticism, I just find their style rather restrictive. It seems to me often that they've painted themselves into a corner stylistically and lack the subtlety that so many of the great political punk bands had. However I was pleasantly surprised with their half of the split.  "America Got It Right," "Smash It To Pieces" and "Gifts From America: With Love, the USA" are catchy political rants that A-F fans have come to expect. The band's commentary attacks the 'war on terrorism,' which makes their lyrics a bit more focused then some of the more generic rally-cries they've done in the past. "No Borders, No Nations" has Chris #2 on vocals and sounds more in line with Strike Anywhere's latest material. The band covers the Bouncing Souls' "The Freaks, Nerds & Romantics," which is a refreshing change of pace for Anti-Flag and brings to mind how many similarities the two East Coast bands really share. Their final song is a faithful cover of the Buzzcocks classic "Ever Fallen in Love," which features some fantastic vocal harmonies and is just as catchy and fun as the original. The covers allow the band to step outside their typical political angle and keeps their half of the split sounding fresh. 

The covers on this album really help highlight the bands' individual influences. Its always great to hear the Souls paying tribute to a band like Cock Sparrer and its awesome to hear Anti-Flag acknowledge the influence the Buzzcocks had on their sound. Once again, BYO's put together a great all-around package when it comes to the liner notes. Jim Testa of the Jersey Beat zine toasts the Bouncing Souls and Nicky Garrett of the UK Subs and New Red Archives writes about Anti-Flag. Definitely check this one out.