Citizen Fish / Leftover Crack - Deadline (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Citizen Fish / Leftover Crack

Deadline (2007)

Fat Wreck Chords

I must confess, I've never been much of a fan of the crust/squat/whatever punk genre. For that matter, the only "old-school" punk I listen to is what I was raised around: Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, the get the point. Something about being able to identify with the music. Crust punk and I never really meshed because, frankly, I couldn't relate. I was raised in the Reagan era, but really began to understand politics under Clin-Ton, so the vibes were a lot better during my more formative years. Plus, though I wasn't raised with a silver spoon in my mouth, I never had to worry about mom and dad not being able to provide the basic essentials in life. So when I opted to move out on my own at 18, tackle college and a full-time job together and paying my own way, I was more concerned with making some kind of life for myself, rather than smashing the state.

Where does this rambling lead? Well, mainly that I've always seen the two bands featured on this split as somewhat of a punk rock cliché. The stereotypical icons of the punk rock kids that may feel shunned by society, yet ironically shun anyone not fitting their narrow description of who and what "punk" is. However, with age we all begin to see past trivial aspects such as this and look toward the music. Deadline is the open gate introduction for all fans of punk to listen to, and enjoy two talented bands. Citizen Fish, the ska-punk side project of legendary anarcho punks Subhumans, get things going with with seven tracks of high-energy, sing/dance-along anthems. "Working on the Inside" kicks things off with your basic ska riff, but explodes with monstrous all-in vocals and horns aplenty. Following immediately is a rendition of "Money," originally by their split counterpart's former moniker, Choking Victim. Though well-performed, it seems to lack the energy found on the rest of their original material contributed to the split.

The most endearing quality from the first half of this record is how Citizen Fish can provide a mosaic of sounds, styles and general attitudes in your basic three-chord punk rock. The horns are well-placed, and sloganeering seems almost non-existent. There's just fun, anthemic tunes. Closing the first half is another cover, this time taken straight from their pals on the second half. "Clear Channel (Fuck Off!)" is one LoC's better songs, coming from their breakthrough album, Fuck World Trade. Again, the song is worth the listen, at times enjoyable, but just lacks something. Maybe it's just that after hearing it so many times with LoC frontman Stza's trademark sneer, Citizen Fish singer Dick Lucas' British accent, though certainly snide in its own recognizable style, just doesn't seem to provide the same effect. If anything, Citizen Fish do more than their fair share of the work on this split with the original material, which has certainly peaked my curiosity to explore their catalog further.

Now, I'm no expert on the history of the Choking Victim / Leftover Crack lineage. My knowledge starts at "they used to be in Choking Victim" and ends at "now they are Leftover Crack." Fans of the prior endeavor should be pleased with the tracks provided here. While very ska-heavy, which compliments the first half, there's a harder edge at work, and of course the previously mentioned attribute of vocals from Stza. After a brief introduction, toasting the creation of "the good, the bad, and the Leftover Crack" with Dave Dictor from MDC, in comes one of the better songs of the group's catalog. "Baby Punchers," which follows the group's trademark of shock-value titles, sets the pace for another ska-influenced, shout-along track. An added bonus to an already impressive track is a brief spoken work segment at the end of the song from legendary wordsmith, and only Dead Kennedys frontman, Jello Biafra.

The skankability of the LoC contributions continues with "...And Out Comes the N-Bomb," and a great rendition of the Citizen Fish favorite "The Super-Market Song." For those of you that piss on checkerboard styles and skinny ties, the aggression you've you come to love in Leftover Crack is provided in slashing cuts like "World War 4" (though the ballad-heavy chorus may take you for a loop) and the take on Subhumans' classic "Reason for Existence."

The CD itself is encased in a well-designed digipak, a format that many reviewers tend to shit on but when accompanied by a proper booklet well-surpasses your classic compact disc enclosures (more art, and they don't crack!). Speaking of included art, the full lyrics for all the tracks including covers are here, and the LoC side provides full liner notes for each track, including a humorous anecdote on the prior mention of questionable song/album titles provided for "Baby Punchers":

What do you do after you shoot the kids at school? That's right: Punch babies! If people are too stupid to read the song lyrics and they get offended by this one, then they deserve it...1
Obviously this split and the bands themselves don't work for everyone. Either preconceived notions or just different tastes in general will confirm this. However, based on what was expected, a pleasant piece of punk history is the end result. If you've found the crusty-punk scene to be alienating, the sometimes annoyingly giddy vibe of ska will counteract the effect and produce some great tunes. Definitely recommended.

Citizen Fish - "Meltdown"
Citizen Fish - "Getting Used to It"
Leftover Crack - "...And Out Comes the N-Bomb"!
Leftover Crack -- "World War 4"

1 - "Shoot the Kids at School" was the originally planned title for LoC's 2001 album Mediocre Generica, but was changed due to threats by the production plant to not press the album under the name because of numerous school shootings in the news.