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March 29, 2006

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Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is a two-disc set of everything Lifetime released besides Hello Bastards and Jerseys Best Dancers. It's awesome to have the song "Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey" on a CD. The re-mastered versions of the Seveninchesare a great listen, especially for newer fans that wanted to hear exactly when Lifetime perfected the precise mixture of melody and mosh that bands like Fall Out Boy, Saves the Day, and New Found Glory have been stealing riffs from ever since. However, I think including both versions of Background was a bit of overkill; the re-mastered versions don't add much to quality of the original recordings. It's nice to see a band's humble beginnings but no one really needs to ever endure three versions of "You." Although from a completist standpoint Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is an excellent discography for a band that meant so much to a lot of us.

I warn you now; it's going to get a little emo here on out, so if you want to stop reading before it gets too overdramatic I don't blame you.

The booklet of Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is 52 pages of old photos, lyrics, and historical recount done by Norman Brannon of Anti Matter Fanzine where he talks about their early beginnings and their first West Coast tour in a windowless van with Resurrection. I had to choke back the tears on the bus ride home as I read the part where Norm went to one of the Lifetime reunion shows this past Summer. He had a talk with Ari about music and Norm mentioned he was in a band but didn't know if he wanted to continue on with music and Ari replied, "You will, you just can't stop. It's what we do." That just hammered home how much this band means to me. Lifetime was never about having an agenda or changing the world. They were just guys that played hardcore because they had too. It was in their blood and deep within their hearts. It summed up everything that I have ever thought about hardcore or punk rock or even music in general. People played music for their love for it and people listened to it because it made their lives more bearable because someone out there got "it," whatever "it" was. For some people it was about anger, or having a crush on some, or dealing with assholes. Lifetime knew exactly what "it" was for me and wrote the songs for me to sing along to.

Lifetime is the band that changed everything for me. They made me realize that hardcore could have a heart and be catchy so that your girlfriend wouldn't hate you for listening to it. And yet it was still awesome. Every time I listen to Lifetime I recall a certain happy memory that any number of their songs invoke. Lifetime is my favorite band of all time and always will be. Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey could be no better gift to Lifetime fans out there. Thank you, Jade Tree and Lifetime, for releasing this.

9.5 / 10

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