The Soft Pack - The Muslims (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Soft Pack

The Muslims (2008)


Why, why, why, why, oh why, why am I attempting to churn out a review in the midst of final exam week when I could just as easily wait until it's over? It's not that I'm not motivated to study, but rather I'm captivated by a handful of songs by a band I know little about and I can't think about anything but this mesmerizing garage punk bursting through my stereo.

The Muslims' colorful name first caught my eye as a supporting act on the currently ongoing Night Marchers US tour. After a few songs of sampling and boasts by the band that the "vinyl jackets and sleeves silk-screened by us, inserts are hand-typed, and the jackets were shot by a former New York City Police Officer," I knew I had to splurge for the wax (not that it's available in any other format). However, the vinyl does come with a bonus CD that includes everything on the vinyl plus three bonus tracks, that are as good, if not better than the material on the vinyl.

The album gets going with "Right and Wrong" just the way the rest of the record follows suit: with a simple instrumental line, a poppin' snare and effortlessly catchy vocals that are a bit reminiscent of late Springman Records pop-punk act Pain. The music may be "stripped down," but the songwriting is on par with that of the legendary rock and roll heroes of the `50s and `60s, updated with a hint of irony and ripping guitar solos. From the surf-tinged spelling bee of "Beside Myself" ("With your BBC E.D., your SAT IQ / I was beside myself / All alone") through "Religion" and "America," the Muslims pack some serious rock and roll dance party heat.

It seemed a bit odd that the bonus tracks were included on the CD instead of the vinyl since digital CD tracks are more easily leaked to file sharing sources than vinyl material, but I have absolutely no qualms with getting a CD and some of the best bonus material imaginable along with a vinyl purchase. "Extinction" comes off totally raw in both its sound and lyrics, but there's no denying the ear-snagging hooks and confident swagger. The same is certainly true of "Nightlife" and "Bright Side," that with its complementing dual-guitar approach and sunny-sounding woes of despair may just be the best track on the whole damn CD.

OK, seriously, I have to get back to studying, but I couldn't wait any longer to publicly fill the cup over this record. I was pretty sure that the Night Marchers would easily take the award for best garage punk release of 2008, but they have some serious competition. I apologize for the sparse review and lack of witty cultural references, but don't let that discourage you from checking out the Muslims ASAP! Allah is stoked.