Swingin’ Utters – Here, Under Protest – Review

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There aren’t too many traditional punk bands still out there that can hold the same stage as CA resident ol’ heads, Swingin’ Utters. Sure, pioneers such as Bad Religion, The Bouncing Souls, NOFX, and Screeching Weasel have stayed around for a while (scratch off that last one), but none have remained as persistently stubborn and linearly focused as these five punk-revival archtypes. And while Swingin’ Utters have made an ass-load of staple efforts from full-lengths, to EP’s, compilations, and splits, their latest, telling record “Here, Under Protest,” is their first in eight years, which could either bode well for long-time fans, or show listeners a glimpse of an aging punk dynasty that might be a little out-of-touch.

For those who are curious, “Here, Under Protest” continues the band’s down to earth persona and simplistic maturity that old school punk lovers yearn for with every new record. This latest effort has the easily digestable and tale-driven,  folk-inspired punk that Swingin’ Utters has delievered without fail for almost 24 years — and for a band with an unusual name and corny dollar signs in their title, they actually write some pretty trancending music. Like fellow punk pioneers, Green Day (who have now been neutered by the mainstream), SU sticks to well-travelled power chords and poppy percussion — the easiest comparison being the early song ”Taking The Long Way,” which channels Green Day‘s hit “Welcome To Paradise.”    

Darius Koski lends his share of soothing vocals to several tracks as per usual, ie. “Kick It Over” and ”Time On My Own“ , both of which take a very different approach then the others, mirroring ancient classic punk bands like The Clash and The Pogues (sans bad teeth) and really giving the album a whole new dimension that could stand by itself and be great. Koski’s lyrics are cheeky but honest, delivering such memorable lines as “Good Things’” sarcastic words, “Medicate yourself, you’ll feel much better. Take those drugs again, they’ll take you higher. Smoke your cigarettes for stress, drink more just to feel less. This must feel like paradise, but better.” And even with lead singer, Johnny Bonnel‘s, authentic sore-throat vocalizing, it feels good to know that Darius writes most of the bands material.

For the ignorant ones in the crowd, Swingin’ Utters isn’t just some long standing punk institution for no reason. They may employ simplistic instrumentation, as many in the genre do, but their well-written story telling and easy-to-pick-up punk with high replay value is what has inspired many acts for the last two decades. I know I couldn’t stop looping the straight-forward, yet rallying, song, “(You’ve Got To) Give It All To The Man” which is the records quickest and most motivating, despite its repetition and short length. Fans of the band will find no reason to ignore this, while those on the outside, looking in, might enjoy the tamer tracks and poppier punk the effort has to offer. “Here, Under Protest” is punk-revival pure and simple, with home-grown tales and honest lyrics leading the way. [Staff]

Score: 3.5 (out of 5)

Release Date: April 26th, 2011
Record Label: Fat Wreck Chords
Genre: Punk

RIYL: Dead To Me, One Man Army, Green Day

Track Listing:
1. Brand New Lungs
2. Taking The Long Way
3. Bent Collector Of 1,000 Limbs
4. Kick It Over
5. Good Things
6. Sketch Squandered Teen
7. Heavy Head
8. (You’ve Got to) Give It All To The Man
9. Time On My Own
10. Lepers, Thieves And Whores
11. Blindness Is Kind
12. Red And Blues And Beggars
13. Scary Brittle Frame
14. Effortless Amnesiac

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