The Lag

My copy of Putting Music in its Place box set doubles as a “catch-all” for all my Lagwagon schwag. Well, to be honest, the only element NOT from the 519 releases of the colored, 10x vinyl box set that IS “personally” original is the printed ticket from the only Lagwagon show I’ve ever witnessed (January 17, 2015 at The Fonda here in LA). Anyway, for a band with so much personal history, and the perfect release to reflect that, it’s always fun to trip down Memory Ln.

… a Box!

pmitpAside from Double Plaidinum, these five albums were Lagwagon’s discography for this young listener (some 17 embarrassing years ago), which makes this exclusive box set (limited to 519 copies), all the more exceptional. Have a look, then a listen, then hunt one down online. Released by Fat Wreck Chords back in 2011, she comes with a bonus reissue of the band’s first 7″… worth the price of admission by itself. Happy hunting, kids, and happy Friday!

Life in the Fat Lane

FatLaneLife in the Fat Lane, Fat Music Vol. 4 was my first introduction to The Ataris, and their late 90s summer classic, San Dimas High School Football Rules. They must have fallen into obscurity after that, as that was my only exposure to this crazy pop punk band. A quick Discogs check indicates that The Ataris, in fact, did NOT fall into obscurity as they put out a new, self-released album just last year. LitFL also houses Lagwagon’s May 16, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes’ My Favorite Things, and Tilt’s Old School Pig, all of which were late 90s personal classics. Anyway, enjoy your hump day, kids!

Smoky Trash

Smoky_TrashBack when Lagwagon’s sophomore album, 1994’s Trashed was rereleased on colored vinyl (2008), buyers were not told which colored vinyl version they would receive. Fat Wreck Chords didn’t indicate the varying array of colors, so nobody knew how many variations of the 765 reissues there were. Then pictures started popping up on forums showcasing a coke bottle clear vinyl version. Having already owned the original, black vinyl version of Trashed, and having received a blue vinyl reissue, I decided it made plenty of sense to order another and try my luck at the coveted coke bottle clear version. What I received was this muddy purple version, and then all 765 were sold out. For the past 7 years I’ve been hunting for that damn coke bottle clear version, but those lucky bastards aren’t selling, and rightfully so. The last one sold on Discogs on 11/13 for a whopping $85, so the hunt for a reasonably priced copy continues. On a side note, I’ve since acquired yet another copy of Trashed with 2011’s Putting Music in its Place box set. It’s a great album, but I may be obsessing just a bit…

Garbage

TrashedLagwagon’s brand of snotty, emotionally-charged pop punk was, and still is, a staple for the Fat Wreck Chords label. The band’s longevity and continued popularity among middle class youth (now middle aged middle class) has spanned its influential wings across an impressive 23+ years. With many iterations throughout their tenure, and even more rock-solid studio releases, it doesn’t get any better than 1994’s Trashed, as far as I’m concerned. What you’re seeing here is a reissue from the 10 LP box set, Putting Music in its Place from back in ’11. A personal classic, Lagwagon continues to demand my respect.

iFloyd

iFloydThe SO is out of town, which means bachelor weekend for this here guy! So the first thing I do… start organizing my 45s… Apart from deciding to start a new RFTC 7” collection, I discovered this outdated sticker / sampler album insert. Titled iFloyd, the now defunct 14-track sampler featured a few previously unreleased tracks (from Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Against Me!, and Dead to Me), and a slew of classic Fat Wreck Chords mainstays, reminiscent of the old Fat Music comps. Unsure of what to do with this dinosaur, I decide to leave ‘em shoved inside one of the 45 boxes, to be discovered again at a later date. Happy Friday, kids!iFloyd_back

There’s a Lag in the Wagon

Lag WagonReleased in October of ’92 to help promote their debut album Duh, the first 7” by Lagwagon (or, listed here as Lag Wagon) is a bit of a beast to find. I’ve personally never seen an original, but one can be had over at Discogs for a cool $107.29. As the label, Fat Wreck Chords states:

Lagwagon’s first 7″. 2 songs from Duh. WAY outta print. Good luck finding this one. We don’t even have one.

LabelwagonFortunately for us Johnny-come-latelies, Fat re-issued this 22-year-old record back in 2011 with the mega-11-record box set, Lagwagon – Putting Music in its Place, which is where I was finally able to get my grubby little hands on a copy.

Me & Julie Down by the Bowling Alley

Me First CoverEvery so often the (pitcher beer ordering) mood for late 90s pop punk versions of mid 70s radio hits rolls down the cherry wood lane of life and lands a perfect strike (phew… that came desperately close to being a run-on sentence… I miss those).  Times like this, it’s comforting (although not really) to know Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is good for a round, and some damn good classic covers.

This, their first full-length released on Fat Wreck Chords back in 1997, features pop punk-ified versions of John Denver, Kenny Loggins, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Neil Diamond and some other hit-making individuals of considerable musical talent. Covers, not unlike Social Security, are the third rail of musical politics. On one hand, paying homage to a classic can be somewhat of a respectful gesture, but on the other hand, these lazy, talentless bastards could just be riding the coattails of other, more innovative artists. Lucky for all involved with today’s post, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes is comprised of a lucrative series of already established bands, so the results are smooth and well produced.

Me First VinylAllow me to introduce you to the band:

Vocals: Spike Slawson (of the Swingin’ Utters)

Lead Guitar: Chris Shiflett (of No Use for a Name and Foo Fighters… in that order, the order of importance)

Rhythm Guitar: Joey Cape (of Lagwagon)

Bass: Fat Mike (of NOFX fame, also the owner and operator of Fat Wreck Chords)

Drums: Dave Raun (of Lagwagon)

A pop-punk all-star band if ever there was one, Me First is deserving of a listen from fans of that 70s drawl, and bay area pop-punk. Now, set up those bumpers and let’s go bowling (courtesy of The Prudent Groove Lanes Across America Bowling League*).

*Does not exist

101 Bands Playing 30 Second Songs

FatIn June of 1999, Fat Wreck Chords released the optimistically ambitious Short Music for Short People, a novelty album featuring 101 bands spanning the punk rock spectrum in 30 second bursts. With grandfathers like Black Flag, Descendents, Circle Jerks, Misfits and Youth Brigade, to Fat mainstays Lagwagon, NOFX, Wizo and Strung Out, to fellow Epitaph Records mates Bad Religion, Pennywise, The Offspring and The Bouncing Souls, Short Music for Short People, as enjoyable as it is (and it really is), becomes exceptionally laborious when attempting to search for 1/101 of this record’s contents for just a 30 second reward. Lucky for me, I had a brief moment of clarity as a 19-year-old twit and picked up the compact disc version as well. That’s all gone as we wake up each day amongst the digital rays from our digital sun and pull up our digital socks and drive our digital stick-shift vehicles to our digital jobs to earn our digital wages and continue to get looked over for those digital promotions, but that’s neither here nor there.

Fat BackAs hilarious as it is catchy, and as arduous as it is enduring, Short Music for Short People is an aggressive achievement worthy of any open-minded listener. Also, you can learn how to make a bomb out of household objects on track 45, courtesy of The Offspring. Don’t try this at home, kids.

Survival of the Fattest

FatCertain albums carry unintentional weight heavy enough to destroy the basic foundation of a listener’s musical experience.  Survival of the Fattest, the 2nd of the Fat Wreck Chords comps serves as one (of maybe a handful) of these crucial albums. Timing is everything… be it love, a career, no lines at your local record shop on Record Store Day, and what is deemed important say, in 1996 (when this album was released), wouldn’t necessarily wear the same badge of importance as it does in 2013.

Fat BackYou see, I was a budding teen when I acquired this album (of the compact disc persuasion at the 1996 Vans Warped Tour in Milwaukee), and its function as a concrete door-opening battering ram unleashed a lifetime of new and exciting music both directly and indirectly involving the 14 bands contained within it. My love affair with NOFX, albeit cooled to a slight simmer these days, was solidified with this album. The same goes for Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Lagwagon, Propagandhi, Good Riddance and a personal favorite, Strung out… essentially the soundtrack to my late teen years. From there, I would go on to collect any and everything NOFX-related (I’m still searching for 1994’s Don’t Call Me White 7”, although I’m not sure I’d really listen to it much these days), every Lagwagon album and 7″, and any colored vinyl reissue of early, classic Fat albums (mainly Propagandhi, Lagwagon and Good Riddance). I can either blame Survival of the Fattest, for this neverending quest of obtaining the “perfect” collection, or I can thank it for opening my eyes. I haven’t necessarily made up my mind yet.

(A few side notes: 1) This album holds so much adolescent importance that I bought a second, sealed copy just in case my first copy scratches or up and walks away. 2) This was also the album my buddy and I were listening to when we totaled his father’s 1988 Monte Carlo SS. Oh, how impressionable young minds can be.)

Let’s Talk About Maturity

LTAFSave for the compilation, Let’s Talk About Leftovers, 1998’s Let’s Talk About Feelings was the last studio album by the Goleta, CA pop-punk rockers… the illustrious Lagwagon… that demanded my immediate, consistent, dumbfounded, and adolescent attention. I believe, shortly after the release of this album, the wings of my music evolution stretched into the dark, disheveled world of industrial music, so needless to say, Let’s Talk About Feelings left a lasting impression.

To fly over the specifics of this album, allow me to ramble off a few key (irrelevant) facts. Let’s Talk About Feelings was released, as I stated, in 1998 by Fat Wreck Chords. It was offered on compact disc and via wax by means of a 10”. Lagwagon released a box set of their major albums back in 2011, and Let’s Talk About Feelings was finally given a proper 12” format. Ok… back to the lamenting.

LTAF 10Let’s Talk About Feelings was one of those albums that never left the car. You know those albums, those discs of the compact nature. This particular disc postulated my attention for what seemed like SEVERAL years (I was 19 then, so a day felt like a week, and a week felt like, well, two weeks). Let’s Talk About Feelings, or LTAF, marked something of an uncomfortable maturity from the band that, at the time, I was both not prepared for, and unwilling to accept. Again, I was 19… daft, irrelevant, thick, and extremely pissed off.

LTAF PinkWith only 25 minutes dispersed throughout 12 emotionally weighing tracks, LTAF feeds that driving need for fast-paced, melodically moving, and hook-tastic pop-punk, that, for me, acted as a perfect half-hour soundtrack to the inevitable, adolescent-abandoning struggles of my late teen years. Let’s Talk About Feelings is a difficult album… not by what it presents, but by the nostalgia it unearths. My experience with this album is certainly only isolated to me, my actions, and the immediate concerns of a 19 year old pizza delivery driver facing the woes of the budding responsibility that erupts from the inevitable mountain of mastered maturity.

Let’s Talk About Feelings… I just did.

Editor’s note: This post was by request, and marks the first of (hopefully only a few more… just kidding) many friendly, reader-based requests to come. Do you have a specific request? Email me or drop me a line in the comments. I can’t promise you’ll enjoy what you read, but your requests certainly will not go overlooked.

On Legal Speed (The American Way)

Lag FrontCoffee is a wonderful drug. Its stimulating warmth delivers that little bit of pep so often missing in the early morning hours… whatever you consider those “early morning hours” to be. If noon is early for you, good on ya’. I won’t judge. But I will ask that you save me a cup.

Lagwagon’s 1992 debut, Duh, is a metal-influenced-punk-long-player, featuring a Creedence cover, a melodic romp about the deceptive eyewear resulting from drinking too much beer, an aggressive interpretation of the Inspector Gadget theme, and most importantly, Duh fosters a vicious ode to the mastered art of straining hot water through ground up roasted coffea seeds.

Lag BackLagwagon’s Mr. Coffee provides the audio equivalent of orally consuming a hot cup of joe. With its rapid approach and short-lived tenure, it leaves the consumer wanting another two-minute and fifteen-second fix. Mr. Coffee has been an early morning favorite for me since discovering Lagwagon nearly 20-years ago (yes, I’m old).

There really should be more songs about the essential joys of coffee. Its importance cannot be understated.