I love stuff like this. As if punk music wasn't already normally stripped down to it's bare fuckin'
bones, along comes the folk punk movement. And not, like, "world-influenced" or celtic punk, this is just punk music
played with an acoustic guitar, a vocal, and occasionally drums or percussion. Like early Billy Bragg but without all
the reverb. Northern Aggression definately fits this description.
But it really goes beyond that. Singer
Scott Niekum sounds alot like Brendan Kelly of mid-nineties Chicago ska-punk shitheads Slapstick (and later the Lawrence Arms),
with hints of Paul Westerberg. In fact, "Ready, Aim, Sire!", the third track, sounds just like Sorry Ma era The
Replacements, only unplugged. There's also alot of snottiness in these songs. It's like
non-artsy anti-folk. And I should also point out that these guys definately have a boner for the Christians. Just
give "O Come All Ye Hateful" a listen. Pretty funny stuff. It's almost got a Jello Biafra feel to it at times.
All these elements combined make for a pretty interesting listening experience.
With the exception of the instrumental
"Angel", and the opening vocals on "Somedays", it's definately not what you'd call pretty music, especially for a band
whose most prominent instrument is a well-tuned acoustic. There's not really any note-picking, either. No annoying
arpeggios. Just good ol' fashioned chord-bangin'.
The only influences the band list by name on their MySpace
page are Kid Dynamite and Against Me!, but since I don't really listen to either one, I couldn't really tell you if this is
a good point of reference or not. I do know that it reminds me of all the Asian Man comps I used to listen to during
the late nineties (hence the Slapstick reference). At any rate, there's great riffs here, energetic strumming, great
punk vocals, and fairly witty lyrics. The only real complaint I have is the sound of the drums on "Ready, Aim, Sire!".
I don't know why. There's, like, something slightly off about the cymbals. Don't get me wrong, the song's
very listenable, and in fact it's one of my favorites from the album. I'm just sayin'. I can't go through an entire
review without saying anything negative.
Anyway, go to the Northern Aggression page and download the CD. And kick
'em a little somethin' for it while you're at it. These guys seem like they deserve it.