Avail - Dixie (Cover Artwork)


Dixie (1994)

Lookout! Records

With a rapid machine gun beat blasted out by Eric Larson on the drums, "On The Nod" opens Dixie with a bang! The quick, chugging stutter of Joe Banks' buzz saw guitar cuts through with a catchy combination of power chords & melodic string picking. Tim Barry calls out, "Could be afraid of what they'd say!". This is how a punk album is supposed to start. Loud, urgent, fast and clear.

Avail's second full length is a big leap forward from Satiate. While you could see potential on songs like "March", "Stride" & "Pinned Up", Satiate was largely a band still trying to figure itself out.

Dixie is where they found all the nuances that would solidify their emotive, passionate and powerful sound. It's raw and aggressive with quick tempos pushing the message home on songs like, "Song", "Sidewalk", "Virus", & "Southbound 95." They get more brooding and introspective on the more bass driven, cathartic, hardcore tinged screamers, "Clone", "25 Years", "Treading On Heals", and "Model". Their power pop sensibility and song writing skills come through nicely on the catchy, high energy sing—a—long tracks, "On The Nod, "Tuning", and "Beliefs Pile".

There really isn't a bad song on here. Some will no doubt be more appealing than others, depending on what style you like best. My Favorites are "On The Nod, "Tuning", "25 Years", "Virus", and "Southbound 95". To me, Avail is kinda like the perfect mix of the energy and aggression of Fugazi with The Replacements' Midwestern story telling rock n' roll.

As was the rule for most punk albums at this time, they finish the album with a high octane cover of an "old rock n' roll" song. Avail fittingly chose to close the album with the blue collar anthem "Pink Houses" by good ol' Jon "Cougar" Mellencamp. They do the song more than justice, as Avail is as adept at cover tunes as they are with their own songs (Look for their versions of "Kiss Off", "Said Gun", "You May Be Right", and "Santeria" to name a few).

For those of you who are "old" like me (I was 15 in 1994), remember the days before we could go online and stream or steal music ad nauseam? We had to rely on the liner notes and thank you lists in the albums of our favorite bands? I first heard of Avail in '94 when I bought Let's Go by Rancid. The liner notes for has concert flyers that show a bunch of bands that Rancid was playing around with at the time. One flyer in particular has Avail playing with Rancid at 924 Gilman on "FRI, JAN 7th". As was the usual procedure, we would memorize some of the bands names that sounded cool and then try to find those bands records the next time at the record store. This was hit & miss. Sometimes you bought an album that stunk it up. Other times you found that rare gem that became one of the defining records in your collection. So I bought Dixie at the old Off The Record on El Cajon Blvd in San Diego CA. It was one of those gems.