The Lucky Stiffs

Gold in Peace, Iron in War

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It is always interesting when two bands with the same name (or at least similar names) have totally different sounds. Southern California has given listeners a blues-rock band called Nick Sharpe & the Lucky Stiffs, who have no connection to the San Francisco-based outfit heard on Gold in Peace, Iron in War. This 2006 release is not blues-rock at all; these Lucky Stiffs are punk-oriented, although not in an emo way. Commercially, emo was the dominant punk (or more specifically, punk-pop) style of the '90s and early to mid-2000s, but there is not a trace of emo on Gold in Peace, Iron in War -- certainly not emo in the ultra-introspective blink-182/Promise Ring/Sunny Day Real Estate sense. The Bay Area's Lucky Stiffs don't sound like an emo band, and they don't look like one. Actually, they look more like a metalcore band with their tattoo-covered arms and piercings, but this album is not metalcore. Instead, these Lucky Stiffs favor punk that is raw, tough, and garage-like but melodic and hooky; they get a lot of inspiration from old-school punk bands like the Clash, Sham 69, the Dead Boys, the Circle Jerks, and Stiff Little Fingers (either directly or indirectly), and other stylistic comparisons range from Hüsker Dü to Rancid. Occasionally, Gold in Peace, Iron in War veers into heavier territory -- heavier as in mindful of '80s hardcore (although not metalcore). The brief "This Is Mine," for example, packs a nasty punch that could be described as somewhere between Henry Rollins-era Black Flag and the '80s hardcore bands that Black Flag influenced. But more often than not, this 30-minute disc is a melodic affair. Gold in Peace, Iron in War falls short of exceptional, although it's a worthwhile and generally likable, if derivative, effort from the Bay Area unit.

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