Skateboard culture took hold of California in the late '70s and early '80s, where kids in cities like Santa Monica and Los Angeles defined freestyle skating from the ground up. Of course, at the time, music was just exciting. Punk rock was fragmenting, and bands like Black Flag on the West Coast and Minor Threat in the East were forging the new rhythms of hardcore. It's that sound Tony Hawk's American Wasteland taps for its soundtrack. But instead of putting together the usual comp of classic punk and hardcore, contemporary bands have been asked to contribute covers. Naturally the results vary. But for the most part it's a solid set, both for fans of the original songs and the current bands covering them. Buddy Nielsen really nails Mike Muir's apathetic teen intonation on Senses Fail's version of "Institutionalized," "All I wanted was a Pepsi! And she wouldn't give it to me!" My Chemical Romance are a predictable choice for the Misfits' "Astro Zombies," while Dropkick Murphys muscle ably through the Adolescents' "Who Is Who." Most if not all of the contributors are entirely faithful to their source material -- Thrice even go so far as to distort and treble-ize everything in their medley of Minor Threat's "Seeing Red/Screaming at a Wall," just to nail that D.C. 1981 feel. It's also nice to see bands like T.S.O.L., Government Issue, and Gorilla Biscuits get exposure alongside the usual entries from the Stooges and Descendents. (Hot Snakes, in particular, do a great job with GI's "Time to Escape.") Rise Against, who already covered "Nervous Breakdown" for Lords of Dogtown, must be the official stand-ins for Black Flag when it comes to skateboarding and the history of U.S. punk music: they end Tony Hawk's American Wasteland with all 54 sneering seconds of Flag's "Fix Me."
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus