Strike Anywhere - Exit English (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Strike Anywhere

Exit English (2003)

Jade Tree

It's true what they say, you know. The old saying about first impressions? It came to mind when I first popped in Change is a Sound; it literally knocked me off my feet for the entire first listen. I've listened to a lot of music over the years, and there is nothing like the feeling of hearing an exhilarating new band; the kind of band that reminds you of what attracted you to this music in the first place.

Change... had it all; the speed and energy, the intelligent politics, and the blistering anger coupled with a deep sense of sadness. What struck me about that first record, in spite of all the voracious bursts of speed, and shouted/sung vocals, was the melancholy. It wasn't the kind of self-pity melancholy which has always been a part of rock music, but a projected melancholy; this band was articulating the feelings of the people it was singing about, not just words.

When Thomas screamed "I'm not resisting you" (Sunset On 32nd) it was obvious he wasn't speaking about some abstract political ideal; he was referring to real people. It was chilling, and with that line, Strike Anywhere had me. This was a band that meant something.

So, obviously, Exit English was starting out with a bit of a handicap. Frankly, I had heard Strike Anywhere before. So, how could they move me, without losing me?

Simple really.

Just be more melodic. And angrier.

Keep the lyrics personal. But use universal images so it doesn't become so abstract as to lose context.

Well, maybe it's not so simple, but they mostly did it anyway.

Of course, the world has been quite forthcoming with inspiration for a band like Strike Anywhere; A leader without a clear mandate from his people has gone overboard into right wing isolationism and economic irresponsibility. Half the planet is on the brink of some variety of religious war. Unemployment is up, crime is up, incarcerations are up.

Strike Anywhere isn't ignoring any of this; and it's painfully clear how in touch they are with those feelings. That's not to say it's a perfect record; some of the slower tracks drag the middle down a bit, and Thomas' vocals are a little drier on those same tracks. But the best songs on the record are plentiful, and the disappointments slight.

In many ways, the arrival of this record is more than just a musical catharsis, but a catharsis for anyone concerned with the state of the world. No, Strike Anywhere isn't going to put an peaceful man in the White House, nor are they going to increase employment, or solve world hunger for that matter. But until those things happen, Strike Anywhere will remind us we're not alone in our anger, our sadness, and our hope.