I Against I - Headcleaner (Cover Artwork)

I Against I

Headcleaner (1998)


I Against I's name may bear resemblance to the almighty Bad Brains, but all comparisons stop right there. Their music is nothing like the gut-wrenching 80's hardcore of Washington DC's most influential punk band (aside from Minor Threat); in fact, it's more of a hybrid of Strung Out, Face to Face, Bad Religion and Social Distortion - in a really odd way. Before all my critics jump on that last comment - hear me out.

Nearly every song on "Headcleaner," is a classic - the songs contain intricate harmonies but don't seem short of hard-hitting punk riffs: songs like "Maybe Tomorrow" and "Ordinary Fight" attract even the most skeptical punk rocker, while songs like "Top of the World" (my personal favorite) seem quite content with focusing on the more emotional side.

"Nailed to the Floor" sounds like it could fit easily on Bad Religion's 1993 classic "Recipe For Hate," but don't be quick to knock the band for plagarism: they've added quite a few levels of quality on top of the copyrighted Bad Religion style. Not only does it slightly deviate from the verse-chorus-verse structure that Brett is so familiar with, but it's much more fun to listen to. I Against I have a unique feel to them because of that - not only are their songs extremely entertaining, but they're short on the dick-and-fart humor of bands like Lagwagon and most of the other punk bands, especially on Fat Wreck. Because of this, the album never loses momentum or it's staying power in your stereo - if you're one of the few to actually own it.

This band is probably the most cursed band on Epitaph's label. Out of their 2 full-length albums, only 1 has really seen the light of day (and that is this one), but even this barely received any of the treatment most of Epitaph's artists were getting at the time. Very few compilations sported their tracks (outside of the Punk-O-Rama 3 compilation, which featured "Ordinary Fight") and I'm pretty sure they were only on Warped Tour once (another rarity), and they weren't even on a featured stage when they were (if I'm wrong, let it go - it's possible). Regardless of whether or not the aforementioned has truth to it, the band was under-promoted, without a doubt; the fact that their second album "I'm A Fucked Up Dancer But My Moods Are Swinging," never saw the light of day outside of Europe (even though it was carried by Epitaph America .. weird) just pissed me off - it pretty much killed the band's chances of establishing themselves as mainstays in the ever-changing punk rock scene. The record was as phenomenal as this one, and I plan on reviewing it shortly, for those who care.

But alas, I am done griping, at least for now! Bwahaha. Anyhow, I figured I would share some insight with all you kids about this amazing band. If you haven't checked them out, make sure you pick up this lovely punk record (I'm pretty sure it's still in print), and if you see one of their other releases, (I believe they released a 3rd album in 2000 called "Space Odyssey", but I have yet to hear it, again thanks to Epitaph's lovely commitment to their artist. (HINT: Since you're reading this, stop signing bands like Matchbook Romance and trying to jump on the overloaded Emocore boat and stick to what works!)

If I get a decent response to this approach at reviewing, I might continue doing it this way - but if not, I'll go back to my trademark insults and angry suburban point of views, and possibly make fun of Canada some more! Har Har.