Cranked Up!

This Is a Weapon

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Very few bands can get away with inserting a "!" into their name, but Philadelphia punk rock outfit Cranked Up! sure do, thanks to the driving, varied, and always energetic approach qualifying their Blackout Records debut, 2005's This Is a Weapon. A relatively new project for veterans of several separate Philly punk rock concerns, and therefore freer to break out of most strict, self-imposed boundaries, Cranked Up! dabble liberally in their influences, quoting the Pistols' "New York" ("You Are the Fool") here, pure American hardcore ("Swindled") and second-generation U.K. punk rockers like the Exploited ("It's Not Right," "On the Attack") there, and even Swedish metallic pop-punkers the Backyard Babies on "Deal With It." Damning political and social commentary does break up the good-natured fun on occasion (see "Another Vietnam," "Exploitation," and the sensible critique of blind patriotism "Make Me Sick"), but not enough to wreck the album's overall upbeat vibe -- helped along by power pop sensibilities that are guaranteed to carve silly grins and inspire happy head-bopping out of pogo-inducing efforts like "You Are the Fool," "Change in You," and "New Regime." The final balance: by punk rock's nihilistic and apocalyptic standards, this is an overwhelmingly positive record, and makes for a righteous half hour of straightforward, noncommittal, pure punk entertainment fit for old-timers and young saplings alike.

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