Monday, January 14, 2008

American Steel-Jagged Thoughts

The recently reformed American Steel is a punk band who originated in the East Bay during the mid-90's and released their self-titled LP in 1997. It showcased the sloppy musicianship and harsh vocals which were a staple of the East Bay scene during that time period, while intermingling with distortion jacked, white-boy ska ala Operation Ivy. While certainly rough hewn and fun, it lacked any sort of sophistication that would begin to develop on the bands next three albums. While 1999's Rogue's March showed the tightening up of their formerly sloppy instrumentals, it retained the gravelly vocals which were such a staple of the northern California punk rock scene at the time. Their 2001 release, Jagged Thoughts, however showed a newfound maturity and sensibility that streamlined all of their elements into one tight and more digestible package, mixing the punk and ska, and replacing the hoarse yelling with a smoother "motown meets punk rock" style of delivery. They've recently got back together (and put that really lame Communique band on hold) to do a tour with the Lawrence Arms, and release a new album (2007's Destroy Their Future, which is essentially the missing link between Rogue's March and Jagged Thoughts). Jagged Thoughts, however, shows them at their most intelligent and most ambitious moment to date, and is definitely worth checking out.

And if you ever get the chance to see this band live, by all means do, if only for the glorious singalong romp of "Rainy Day" and "Maria" (and well the rest of their discography too).

For fans of: Against Me!, Fifteen, The Lawrence Arms, Alkaline Trio, Communique

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