Shot Baker / Serf Combat - Chicago vs. London [7 inch] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Shot Baker / Serf Combat

Chicago vs. London [7 inch] (2009)

Underground Communiqué

What came first, the chicken or the egg? The beer or the shame? These are the type of debates that rage on in punk rock if you are a complete tool...or Matthew Lillard. For the rest of us, we sit back and enjoy the rich cultural exchange that punk rock has provided us, replete with all of our regional nuances, savior faire, joie de vivre and je ne sais quoi like you wouldn't believe. Chicago's Shot Baker and London's Serf Combat embody this exchange perfectly on their latest split together; instead of covering each other's songs, they each take on a song that influenced them from the other's place of origin.

Shot Baker starts the A-side off with an original, "I'm Not OK." If you are familiar with Shot Baker's previous releases, the song will come as no surprise; it is a hooky number showing a lot of influence from that early Chicago sound of Naked Raygun and Pegboy with some nice vocal harmonization. At the four-minute mark I feel the song lasts about a minute longer than it needs to and outstays its welcome, but it's a solid tune nevertheless. For their cover they chose London's finest, Cock Sparrer, which makes perfect sense because while they were known for anthemic sing-alongs, they also had some really catchy guitar work, which fits Shot Baker's style to a 'T.' Shot Baker does the original justice and Chris Gach's drum work even improves the song somewhat, with more energetic fills and a much better recording than Cock Sparrer's Shock Troops version courtesy of a great recording/mixing/mastering job by Nat Wright and Dan Precision.

The B-side courtesy of Serf Combat is the real treasure on this 7". I'm unfamiliar with Serf Combat's previous output but their listing of bands like Pegboy for their influence, I was not expecting the sounds that escaped my speakers. The opening cleanly strummed chords of "King of Shit Fuck Mountain" (which may or may not have been named after me) resemble some mid-'90s emo but when the full band kicks in it becomes a jangly romp that wouldn't be out of place on a Fake Problems record. I don't know the Bollweevil's original, but Serf Combat do their mid-paced pop-punk well and their vocalist's nasal yelp reminds me a lot of the Frenetics' Malcolm Bauld.

If you are new to these bands, the Serf Combat side of this 7" the split is worth it alone and Shot Baker's Cock Sparrer cover is nothing to shake a stick at either. If you are already a fan this should be a nice addition to your collection.