Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lagwagon Double Plaidinum (1997) Review

Lagwagon "Double Plaidinum" (1997) LP Cover
One of the earliest punk rock bands that I personally loved to listen to when I was a teenager was Lagwagon. I first got their record “Hoss” when I traded a CD Player for it and a skateboard. This was back in 1996 or 1997, but either way, I got the record, “Hoss” which was quite good overall. But I didn’t hear a lot from the band because I was busy collecting a lot of other records at the time. However, I did cycle back to Lagwagon later in my collecting, and would eventually pick up the vinyl edition of “Double Plaidinum”. This album came out on August 12, 1997, and it was released on the Fat Mike owned Fat Wreck Chords. The line up was Joey Cape, Chris Flippin, Jesse Buglione, Dave Raun, and Ken Stringfellow, and the album was produced by Angus Cooke.

A Specific Sound of Punk Rock

It’s easy to label this band punk rock, but in a way that Nofx was labeled new school. Lagwagon’s sound on “Double Plaidinum” is very specific. The reason is because Joey Cape’s vocals are very distinct. You do not hear a lot of bands that sing the way he does, and therefore you know the band when you hear them. The lyrical components are also not brash, and they are not going to hit you in the head with a message, but rather they are true to life. They are poetic, and they reach into the annals of regular life, and just talk to regular topics that you’d expect. From missing friends, to dealing with relationships, and much more. It’s all relatable stuff, and there’s no first in the air on this record. I would say that this is kind of what Mxpx was doing throughout their second and third releases, just talking about “Life In General” so to speak.

31 Minutes of Polished Punk

People sometimes made fun of me for liking Lagwagon because of how well produced their records are. They aren’t the most raw and guttural band in the world. They don’t have to be, they are solid, practiced a lot and come across very well in the studio. If you’re a fan of pop punk, then you’ll love the way that Joey Cap and crew put together songs that have fast production values, and killer drumming. The drumming is quick, and likened to the new school era of punk from the late 1990s, and the guitar work is all simple, and distorted, but without going too hard on the distortion pedal. It’s a bit reserved at times, just enough to give you speed and resonance, while shadowing the bass guitar and drums which are in tune a great deal of the time. The stand out tracks on “Double Plaidinum” include the opening track “Alien 8”, and then follows up with some killer tunes including, “Making Friends”, “Unfurnished”, “Confession”, “Smile”, “Failure”, “To All My Friends”, and of course the several acoustic versions that are part of the re-release.

Non-Offensive Punk Lyrical Elements

From the opening lines of “Alien 8” to the last lines of “To All My Friends”, you’re going to find that Lagwagon is not going to offend you. They aren’t going to make your mom think twice about what you’re listening to, and for some people they are forgettable. They play a simple form of punk rock with Joey Cape’s precision vocals, and interesting drumming alongside Jesse Buglione playing the standard punk rock bass lines you’d expect from a band coming off of Fat Wreck Chords in 1997. I don’t hate it, but you should know that this is not The Sex Pistols, Total Chaos, or even Bad Religion. To some, this is not punk rock because it’s a bit more laid back, and really doesn’t create a compelling brutality or gutter punk ethos, it’s a bit more akin to Descendents to be honest.

I give Lagwagon “Double Plaidinum” a 4 out of 5.

Even though the record is only 31 minutes long, it feels like it drags in the middle. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it, and it doesn’t mean it’s a bad album. In fact, I listened to it twice in a row just to review it here, and the second time it really weighed heavy on me. The lyrics of Joey Cape really speak to various aspects of life today as they were in 1997, and it’s a time tested follow through that makes Lagwagon’s records such a joy to listen to. Lagwagon did well with this release, and they are a staple of my playlists for quality drumming ,interesting lyrical elements, and great production.

You can purchase “Double Plaidinum” from Lagwagon by clicking here, and picking up the preferred vinyl LP edition. Or you can stream it, I don’t care, just make sure that you don’t miss out on this stellar release from 1997.

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