Good Riddance

Bound by Ties of Blood and Affection

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Decades after the music's inception, politically and socially conscious punk rockers are still figuring out ingenious ways to cram words like "salience" and "sycophant" into overdriven three-chord anthems. Good Riddance lead man Russ Rankin adds to this lofty tradition throughout Bound by Ties of Blood and Affection, the strident Santa Cruz punk unit's sixth full-length for Fat Wreck Chords. "There's No 'I' in Team" seems to be the emotional heart of the album. "We foster the illusion of a democratic archetype," Rankin rants over the track's lockstep rhythms and chiming electric guitars. "You can write your congressman/And f*cking spit in the wind/For all the good it'll do you friend." Rankin goes on to endorse awareness and unity as a front against the empty patriotism he sees the government hiding behind. Though there isn't much new in the sentiment or songcraft, the message is as relevant as ever, and its delivery system is a raucous, satisfying punk rock megaphone. It's important for Rankin and the lads to carry their torches and set up their soapboxes, since for too many kids, punk means Hot Topic hair gel and black-vinyl spiked wristbands. Good Riddance acknowledges this. A prescient Breakfast Club soundbite spells it out: When you grow up, your heart dies. Rankin mixes painful, personal emotions of loss and regret with condemnations of the government's intrusion into its citizens' affairs ("Black Bag Confidential") and announcements of a perceived "great lie" foisted on the citizenry by big government and media fat cats. It's the liberal-left agenda crammed into 14 breakneck spitfires that makes you think before you rock. Bound by Ties of Blood and Affection finds Good Riddance to be tighter than ever melodically, dogged in their support of the punk rock tradition, and still boldly, proudly giving the finger to stuffed-shirts and bigwigs everywhere.

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