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January 25, 2005

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When a band puts out a disc of B-Sides and “rare” tracks, you squint your eyes and clench your teeth, because it usually only means one thing – an album filled with lackluster songs that didn’t make the cut for any of the LPs, and usually for good reason. Strike Anywhere’s latest disc, To Live In Discontent is an album filled with B-Sides and rarities, but unlike other albums of the same nature, the songs are all good. Each song on To Live in Discontent could have found a happy and worthy home on any of the previous Strike Anywhere albums, but beggars can’t be choosers – so we are just grateful that these songs have been released for our listening pleasure.

To Live in Discontent starts off in usual Strike Anywhere fashion with the ferocious and energetic, “Asleep.” One, of the many, standout songs, “Chorus of One,” from the 2000 EP of the same name, breaks open as a call to arms with the lyrics, “To live in discontent / Anti-establishment / Since the day we were born / If we just look inside, a thousand rebellions sleep.” The potent “Earthbound,” is a testament to Strike Anywhere’s ability and heart as they pack the entire minute and nine seconds with raw emotion and energy. “Cassandratic Equation,” sounds more like an instant classic than a B-Side with a chorus of, “Underground America, 1999 / But it could be any year, anywhere,” followed by a string of “whoas” capable of igniting the fire in any working class hero. The song also infuses the type of guitar sounds usually found in Fugazi, another influential East Coast band.

The last three tracks, all of which are covers, prove that Strike Anywhere can take classics and, in the words of American Idol’s, Simon, “make it their own.” With traces of Fugazi in Strike Anywhere’s original songs, it’s no coincidence that they cover “Values Here,” by Dag Nasty, a band with strong ties to Fugazi and Minor Threat. “Where Are They Now,” originally by Cock Sparrer comes off as melodic, well rehearsed, and arguably better then the brash original. “Two Sides,” by Gorilla Biscuits also provides a new freshness to an older hardcore classic.

Although Thomas, the lead vocalist of Strike Anywhere, may never win American Idol (nor would he want to), as he can’t manage to hit any of the high notes in “Two Fuses,” he can probably win your little anti-establishment, melodic-hardcore heart regardless. Even though Strike Anywhere may continue “to live in discontent,” their disc should leave listeners, content to the nth degree.

Crush Music Magazine

Melissa Goldberg