Leftover Crack - The E-sides and F-sides (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Leftover Crack

The E-sides and F-sides (2018)

Fat Wreck Chords

It’s part of their charm, but Leftover Crack have a long history of pissing people off, including former record labels. The unexpected result is that the band actually has quite a few out of print and rare records. The E-sides and F-Sides functions as a one stop shop that collects almost everything outside of their three main albums.

Rock the 40 oz, the LOC side of the F-Minus Split, and the LOC side of the Citizen Fish split each essentially get their own side while the remaining rarities are mostly collected on the fourth face.

For one thing, it is nice to have all this material collected into one place. At 30 tracks, the release is massive as it winds you through the band’s history from their earliest recordings to the present day. As the band rages through a lo-fi and sample heavy EP on the Rock the 40oz portion, it’s clear at just how unique this band really is. Prior to LOC, there were a lot of posi bands ala youthcrew hardcore, a lot of good times band ala the 90s pop-punkers, and a fair share of overly serious crust punk and hardcore bands.

But, in an unexpected twist, LOC took all of those elements and twisted them into a Wu-Tang inspired mélange. It’s fitting that ODB makes a brief appearance on Side-A, because just as the emcee would gleefully skip from genre to genre or random topic to random topic, LOC pulls the same trick in a punk context- hardcore here, ska there, death metal yonder. It works because the band really doesn’t care about conforming to rules of sub-sub-sub genres. If anything, by applying a scholarly education of punk in a heretical context, the band both thumbs their nose at their more confined contemporaries and frees the style from the confines that grew around it in the mid-80s.

Though, it’s not all whimsical defacing. There is some silliness here, for sure- “Muppet Namblin’” speaks for itself. But, just as the band goes over the top with overt Satanic imagery, they also make some profound points. “Heroin or Suicide” is near Nick Blinko level of morbidity contemplation. “Nazi White Trash” is a direct attack on Nazis. Even Michael Parenti is brought in to make some sobering points about freedom and corporate powers.

Of course, none of that would amount to much of the music itself wasn’t so damn good. Main songwriter STZA has remained a landmark voice in punk rock because he’s deftly able to wind barbwire around some classically melodic phrasings. The “One of us will be betrayed” bridge in “Nazi White Trash” is delivered in a way that would even make Shane MacGowan circa 1985 jealous.

Thankfully, the release rounds up some ultra-rarities. “Look Who’s Talking Now,” taken from a long out of print Blacknoise Records 7-inch comp is exhumed. The previously digital only Men at Work cover of “Land Down Under” is especially clever. First, as he has done a few times before with The Brains/Cyndi Lauper and They Might Be Giants, Stza makes the argument that a lot of cheesey 80s tunes are actually really good and moving- and this holds true with the MAW number. It also shows MAW’s earliest history as a ska/new wave band as well as shows how LOC can apply their distinctive grit onto anything and make it their own. Call it recklessness or call it fearlessness, but LOC has often taken risks that few other punk bands would for fear of being goofy or worse “not punk,” and that of course, is why LOC is a timeless and unparalleled band.

Certainly, LOC has their detractors and The E-sides and F-Sides only gives those detractors a summary of why they are so ire-inducing to some people. That being said, on those same exact terms, the release shows just how unique and daring this band is- and perhaps they don’t get enough credit for being as groundbreaking as they are- is it because their parts are taken from previously designed tools? Is it because they do so many unexpected things – Wu Tang samples, Kermit covers, A-team homage, ska and metal once- the cleverness is obscured by its own sheer volume? Is it that the new grounds covered by this band were discovered so rapidly with ostensibly little effort? (though an insider’s view would protect that perspective) LoC doesn’t need a testament to its contributions and creations- you can see that on the thousands of frayed backpatches on young punx everywhere- but it’s still nice to have the testament all in one compact package.