Various Artists - For Family and Flag, Volume 1 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Various Artists

For Family and Flag, Volume 1 (2020)

Pirate's Press Records

Back in 2018, Pirate’s Press Records celebrated their 200th release with an excellent triple album called One Family One Flag. Those records featured a good cross section of the vast array of bands that had been associated with the label to that point. For Family and Flag, Volume 1, the label's 300th release, picks up on the popularity of that compilation. As an added bonus, the Volume 1 designation would lead you to believe that this is going to be an ongoing series.

FFaFV1 manages to remind you of PPR’s street punk roots, while also showing their willingness to go beyond them. Side A opener, the American standard “Let the Good Times Roll” performed by Shuffle & Bang, might be the least punk thing the label has been involved with. Still, its blend of jazz, big band and reggae is likely to find an audience among punks. A couple of tracks later, the traditional ska of The Slackers’ “Nobody’s Listening” is also on the mellow end of the spectrum. Lenny Lashley’s Gang of One closes side B with the stripped down folk-punk of “Need”.

Of course, there’s a ton of great punk too. Cock Sparrer have become one of the faces of Pirate’s Press Records in recent years, and their previously unreleased “Marching Onwards” might be the record’s highlight. Subhumans’ “Thought Is Free”, from last year’s excellent Crisis Point, is another nod to the old school. Charger is the newer project from Rancid bassist Matt Freeman. “Watch Your Back” is a thick slab of Motörhead fury. Seized Up are a newer harcore band made up of older hardcore dudes. “Taking Back the Neighborhood” comes from their powerful 2020 debut Brace Yourself.

France’s Lion’s Law delivers more heaviness with “Damaged Heart” from the wonderful 2020 album The Pain, The Blood and The Sword. The rest of the songs come from Pirate’s Press Records standard bearers. The Bar Stool Preachers, Noi!se, Bishops Green, 45 Adapters and Antagonizers ATL are all represented. The Drowns are also there with “Battery Street”, from their serious 2020 Album of the Year contender Under Tension.

With the exception of the Subhumans’ song, all of these tracks are from 2020. Four were previously unreleased. For Family and Flag, Volume 1 might strike a chord with those who grew up listening to those free CD samplers from Fat Wreck Chords and Hellcat, but it’s definitely an elevated version of that. (If you really want to get nostalgic the CD version is only $5.) It’s a well curated and nicely packaged collection that deserves the respect of a proper album.