Old school slams straight into the new school on Swingin' Utters' debut album, reissued by Fat Wreck Chords. The quintet hails from Santa Cruz, but they relocated north, thus the title, The Streets of San Francisco. Combining the taut, melodic edge of the Clash and the anthemic quality of Sham 69 with a hint of the Sex Pistols and nods to Stiff Little Fingers, the album may be rife with influences, but is still potent with potential. Less nihilistic than their predecessors, Swingin' Utters' world view tends more toward the fatalistic. On songs like "Teenage Genocide," "Tied Down, Spit On," and most impressively, "Storybook Disease," the group struggles with the modern world and people's inability to get it or themselves right. The music walks a wondrously fine line between dark and light, with the upbeat melodies set against the desolate lyrics, leaving just a glint of hope. The group's diverse sound is equally impressive, swinging from more frenetic hardcore to harmony-hued punk, Irishesque drinking songs, and onto the almost epic "Catastrophe," which descends from a drunken bar scene into a Clashesque riff, tossing in vocal samples, phenomenal guitar work, and a singalong melody for a particularly heady brew. Even this early on, Swingin' Utters' tight playing, pummeling rhythms, and fabulous guitar leads were impressive. With time they'd get even better.
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AllMusic Review by Jo-Ann Greene