Album Review – Lagwagon “Hang” (Punk Rock)

lagwagonReview By Dustin Griffin
4.5/5 Dragons
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Birds, planes, light fixtures, framed show flyers, boogers after you go swimming, Spiderman and of course bees. All are things that hang. Well now you can add the latest Lagwagon album to that list. Hang is Lagwagon’s eighth full length studio album and their first in nine years. Hang is a comeback, Hang is a reminder, Hang is a riff heavy beast.

So here’s the deal. This is a throwback album, way back, back to the beginning. In content, this album is bosom buddies with Duh and Trashed. Both albums which constantly and gleeful blurred the line between punk and metal is such a carefree and easy manor that I doubt the band even meant to do so or cared much that it happened.

Hang feels more deliberate. It feels like a release, or an explosion. This is about as far from Joey Cape’s solo stuff as you can get. It feels as if, for his slice of the songwriting pie, every time Joey wanted to write a heavy song, he pushed it into some deep dark place within himself and concentrated instead on the easy grooves and silky melodies of late. But that shit has to come out sometime, those anvils have to drop, and on Hang you can feel the f*cking thud.

The album starts off in much the same way as both Double Plaidinum and Blaze: with a melon collie acoustic jam, this time a downright depressing tale of sorrow and loss. Where it differs from those former mentions is that it never takes off into a punk rock slammer. It’s just a minute long acoustic intro that sets the dark tone the album is to follow throughout.

The second song however, makes up for it by hitting the drums hard and fast with the words ‘f*ck this’ introducing the listener to Lagwagon 2014: angry, bold and heavy.

The songs ‘Made of Broken Parts’ and ‘The Cog in the Machine’ are riff destroyers that sound like the accumulation of the best parts of Duh and Trashed processed and syphoned into a couple of body slammers mosh pits the world over will appreciate when the band takes them on the road.

‘Poison in the Well’ follows in the footsteps of Resolve: a great deal of anger, melody and music prowess.

‘Obsolete Absolute’ is the most interesting song on Hang as it’s a punk rock opus that clocks in at a whopping seven minutes (which is like 45 minutes in punk time). That in and of itself is ambitious when most punk songs strain after the two and a half minute mark. The song itself is fantastic. A commentary on a bunch of stuff I’m not smart enough to figure out, but I sure do like those skittering, crunchy guitars and that hyperactive drum beat. On an album already chock full of a great deal of imagination and ideas, this feels and sounds like the concerto.

Elsewhere, ‘One More Song’ slows things down again for an intro before blossoming into the most recognizable Lagwagon-y song on the album. This song could have come off any of the last half dozen of the band’s albums, but with acoustic guitars at the beginning and a funky piano break in the middle. In other words, my wet dream.

The song ‘Drag’ recalls the song ‘Choke’ from Double Plaidinum. ‘Choke’ is one of my favorite Lagwagon songs and ‘Drag’ is a nice bedfellow, with that perfect mix of heavy music and melodic hooks that by now is becoming the trademark sound of Hang.

Finally, album closer ‘In Your Wake’ does an interesting thing by becoming a sequel to the album’s kick off acoustic number. Which makes me wonder if the entire record is actually a concept album. A punk rock Tommy perhaps. Something to think about.

Hang, like a clingy girlfriend, is an album that demands you spend some time with it. One or two spins just isn’t sufficient, or fair. There are layers here. There are ideas and musical depth that will reveal more with every listen. It also isn’t an album you can just pluck a track or two from and be on your way. It’s best experienced from beginning to end, straight through. Well, you can do what you want, but my advice is to treat it like a DVD. You can skip around and pick and choose whatever chapter you like, but you’re not really watching the movie then, are you?


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