Choke - Needless to Say (Cover Artwork)


Needless to Say (1998)


When I first got into NOFX and Pennywise, I thought I listened to some of the fastest and most extreme music around. Hey, lay off, most of us are arsewipes when we're young. I can only imagine how arrogant and ignorant I would have been if I had heard Choke's Needless to Say at that tender age. Often called Canada's best band (which is open to debate), Choke have built up an ardent fanbase over the years, and things really kicked off with this, their third release.

Smallman Records' site labels Choke as "tech-punk that pushes the limits of musical innovation," and I would be inclined to agree, although doubtless there are some people out there preaching "this shit isn't punk!" or "these turdwads are about as innovative as musical socks!" Back up though, it's not always about sounding as weird as possible, people. Sometimes it can be about taking a tried and tested formula and making it one's own. Choke have certainly done that. This album, for its conception, sounds like incredible musicianship went to bed with mid-`90s skatepunk, bent it over and fucked it incredibly hard all night, resulting in one hell of an advanced and evolved breed...and it's incredibly fun.

When I say technical music however, I don't mean ridiculous time signatures (although there are some great tempo changes) or riffs that sound accidental. I mean skatepunk played faster than reality T.V. stars' careers ending, accompanied by seemingly thousands of superb riffs over the top. There are no slow moments here. Yeah sure, there is a trend in music that the faster songs get, the harder it is for each song to sound different, but Choke manage to pull it off and give each track an (although only slightly) individual feel. It really does sound like these 4 young chaps just play like this naturally, meaning they didn't write all these riffs and then were stuck with what melody to sing over the top. These tunes soon found their way to get stuck in my head (granted, not on first listen). Even the solos are catchy as hell, especially on "Doin' Fine." However, a lot of people do get put off by Shawn Moncrieff's really nasally vocals. I can't deny they do sound, erm, different at first, but personally I think that's why they fit the music so well. It sort of sounds like Blurr from Transformers learned how to sing a ton of varying melodies. Basically, you'll either love 'em or you'll hate 'em.

At 26 minutes, all 13 tracks on Needless to Say fly by (forgive me for not naming any standout tracks; I seriously can't pick any) and to be honest, give an authentically addictive feel. If fast and melodic tunes are your thing, give this one a shot. When music is this fun, crazy and catchy it's hard to pick fault. I'm going to be picky though and end this review by saying this album is lacking just a couple of bigger hooks to entice people to delve further (call it accessibility). I honestly feel like Choke are capable of so much more, even in the face of this greatness...