There’s not a lot you can be certain of in the music industry but the fact that any new Lagwagon album will be as great as the last if not better is one of them.
Lagwagon has been around for the best part of three decades with a brief hiatus from 2000 to 2002. Previously the band have released 11 records all through Fat Wreck Chords; eight studio albums, one EP, one live album and a collection of B-sides, compilation tracks and demos. This latest offering Railer will be their ninth studio album and we have been waiting for it for almost five years since their last album Hang. Like any real punk rock band, Lagwagon has never sought after commercial success but have a loyal following none the less.
Right from the beginning the first couple of songs ‘Stealing Light’ and the ‘Surviving California’ it’s obvious that there’s as much intensity in their music as ever before. Joey Cape and the rest of the band demonstrate their expert level of songwriting. With age comes experience and with experience comes the creation of great music. Cape’s recognisable voice is exactly how it’s remembered by their fans and honestly, it’s comforting to have something so constant in an industry of everchanging genres and musical interpretations of punk rock throughout the years.
The 12 tracks of the album are very upbeat and exactly what you’d expect from a Fat Wreck Chords release. A nice highlight is the song ‘Bubble’, where it’s almost as if Lagwagon know that picking up one of their albums (old or new) will whisk you down memory lane all the way back to what got you into music in the first place. ‘Bubble’ takes it back with lyrics like, “Throwback in the van / Cranking the oldies like Samiam / Jawbreaker, Mr T Experience / Never rock anything new”.
Railer really works well and if you didn’t know it was Lagwagon you could think it comes from the minds of a younger generation railing against authority and societal norms. Instead, it comes from the punks that never give up, bringing a sense of maturity and wisdom which can be especially heard in tracks like ‘Parable’ and ‘The Suffering’. These songs take you on a biblical or philosophical journey respectively and could almost be emo if they weren’t so punk rock!
In true Lagwagon style, there’s also a cover thrown in there, well actually it’s a little less thrown and a little more wonderfully placed right at the end. Journey’s ‘Faithfully’ is an already awesome song that is excellently redone in what could be one of the bands best covers, actually. It makes for a brilliant close to a substantial album that pleases through all 36 minutes. In summation, it’s definitely an album to pick up and play on repeat if you want something constant, something you can rely on, something stable in this unstable industry.