4.22.2015

SWINGIN' UTTERS











































"Juvenile product of
the Working Class"
Year:  1996
Country:  US
City:  San Francisco
Label:  Fat Wreck Chords
Format:  CD , LP
Tracks:  16
Time:  36 min.
Style:     Pop        Punk        Hardcore




























SWINGIN' UTTERS is a punk rock band that formed in the late 1980s. Having begun in Santa Cruz, California, the band moved to San Francisco where they are now based. They have been signed to label "Fat Wreck Chords" since 1996. As well as being classed as a "punk revival" band (reminiscent of UK 70s bands such as The Clash, Stiff Little Fingers, The Damned or Newtown Neurotics), SWINGIN' UTTERS have increasingly shown themselves to be influenced by Irish folk, particularly The Pogues. "The Utters" paid homage to their influences with two stellar covers of Cock Sparrer’s on the Blackout compilation Punk Rock Jukebox. In 2003 the group split up until 2010, when they decided to return and to record three albums. The band is still active and making a tour during 2015.
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"Five lessons learned"
Year:  1998
Country:  US
City:  San Francisco
Label:  Fat Wreck Chords
Format:  CD
Tracks:  15
Time:  35 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:     Pop        Punk        Hardcore





















Five Lessons Learned, the Swingin' Utters' second album for Fat Wreck Chords, builds on the breakthrough of their first, A Juvenile Product of the Working Class. They don't depart from their hard-hitting retro-punk formula at all - there's nothing here that couldn't have been recorded in 1977 or 1980 - but their sense of humor is sharpening, as are their hooks. There are a couple of weak cuts, but they speed by so fast you won't even notice them, and that makes this the group's best record to date. This album's title track was used on the video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, perhaps making it the band's most widely heard song. "I Need Feedback", however, was the only single released from this album. Also, the song "This Bastard's Life" is featured in music video game Rock Band 3. The Track "Tell Me Lies" was also featured in a VHS BMX Video called "Dig" Featuring Tim "Fuzzy" Hall and TJ Lavin. The track is played during a Backyard Dirt Session. Five Lessons Learned is mainly an album of short, fast songs in the 'punk revival' style - "I Need Feedback" borrows a riff from The Damned's "Neat Neat Neat" - but there is also a ska-esque song ("Unpopular Again"), and an Irish folk-style song ("Fruitless Fortunes"), hinting at the band's future direction, and that of the side-project, the Filthy Thievin' Bastards. The outer and inner cover art is by photographer Steve Zeigler and features black-and-white shots involving guns, crime and murder scenes (in one picture, the date "2-14-47" is etched in chalk). The presence of the head of the Fat Wreck Chords label, NOFX's Fat Mike, is felt in that he co-produces and plays bass guitar on "Unpopular Again". Another of the many guest musicians is Chris Shiflett, later of Foo Fighters.
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"poorly formed"
Year:  2013
Country:  US
City:  San Francisco
Label:  Fat Wreck Chords
Format:  CD , LP
Tracks:  14
Time:  30 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:     Pop        Punk        Hardcore





















The newest SWINGIN' UTTERS recording dated to 2013, was made, distributed and promoted through label "Fat Wreck Chords", own of "Fat Mike" of the band NOFX. Poorly Formed is anything but what the name suggests. To the contrary, it reflects SWINGIN’ UTTERS’ ever expanding musical proficiency. Obviously they’ve got the punk rock end of the spectrum nailed, and have always had a flare for folk and country as well, but this album sees them hone their indie, punk, garage-rock and folk skills.
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"fistful of hollow"
Year:  2015
Country:  US
City:  San Francisco
Label:  Fat Wreck Chords
Format:  CD , LP
Tracks:  15
Time:  36 min.
Genre:  rock
Style:     Pop        Punk        Hardcore






















Let’s get right to it. ‘Alice’ stumbles in like a madman crawling up your leg with a knife in his teeth, before the squall and feedback, the jungle thump of the drum toms make way and the madman plunges the knife into your abdomen. Announcing that, after their briefest break between record releases, the $wingin’ Utter$ are back and kicking off their new record with one of their heaviest songs in years. Hell of a way to burst through the doors. ‘Fistful of Hollow’ is nothing more than further proof that Darius Koski is one of this, or any other generation’s greatest songwriting penmen. Smooth, easy punk melodies gliding through poetic wordplay delivered by his own laid-back delivery. Title tracks should usually be one of the better songs on an album, but often aren’t. This one is. ‘Tell Them Told You So’ shows us why the Utter$ are one of the genre’s most interesting, exciting and satisfying bands. Constantly striving for new sounds and new fitting the band with new ideas, this track is unlike anything they’ve done before. All the while sounding resolutely like the $wingin’ Utter$ we know and love. A simple guitar riff which leads Johnny Bonnel’s own funky vocal delivery and lyrical wordplay through quasi hip hop verses and indie pop sensibilities in the chorus. My favourite song on the record, incredibly fun. ‘From the Towers to the Tenements’ is full chested straight ahead punk rock greatness. Street level tales of life on the streets with a fistful of key changes and a simple energy that will tap toes. End of story. ‘Napalm South’ see’s the boys in the band in (their alter ego’s) Filthy Thieving Bastards territory. Dance floor punk rock Americana with waltzing bass lines, snare rim clicks and hand claps aplenty. ‘More or Less Moral’. More toe tapping and increases in heart rates as the band rips through the powerful verses to get us to the impossibly catchy chorus and the nautical stomp of the bridge. My only complaint is that it’s over too soon. Light on duration but heavy on the hook. ‘I’m Not Coming Home’ sounds the most like the Utter$ of the past couple albums. Which isn’t a complaint. New ground is fun, but sometimes the greatest comfort is in familiarity. A nice dichotomy to the song’s title then. ‘Spanish’. ‘Spanish’ is definitely newer territory. Incredibly catchy, like the rest of the album, with a moaning guitar and lyrical playfulness. It’s a cool song that’s both perfect for the album while managing to stand out. It even devolves, strangely, wonderfully, into stringed accompaniment on the outro. ‘Tibetan Book of the Damned’ is a gritty view of the apocalypse set against the country grind of musical cross reference these guys are just so damned good at. Again, it’s over much too soon. But not as soon as ‘Agonist.’ The just over one minute wonder of a song which sports arguably the catchiest chorus on the record. This one will ignite the pits and at $wingin’ shows for years to come. ‘We Are Your Garbage’ is some of that homespun Californian self deprecation these boys are so fond of highlighting on every record. You won’t find a more humble group of guys than the guys in $wingin’ Utter$, but on songs like ‘We Are Your Garbage’ and ‘Poorly Formed’ from their last record, they take it a step further. Of course, all of it with a tongue in cheek sensibility. I hope. ‘Tonight’s Moons’ and ‘No Talking’ are Ramones-y rippers that wouldn’t sound out of place on ‘Juvenile Product of the Working Class. ’While ‘Unaffected’ is a pretty punk poem and a song I actually found quite moving, both lyrically and musically. Finally, ‘End of the Weak’ (not a typo), is a song that is the musical equivalent of laying on a grassy knoll and watching the clouds drift by overhead. A song of quiet contemplation and restrained resolution with (I believe) banjo, xylophone, violin and a bass guitar which manages at times to sound like jug, as your guides. A beautiful song. It would be hard to imagine a more perfect ending to this record. Fistful of Hollow (out on Fat Wreck Chords) sees the $wingin’ Utter$ dancing on the sharpest edge of a creative peak that has produced three records in just over three years. As a collaborative effort, this is one of the band’s most involved recordings, with Darius, Johnny, bassist Miles Peck and guitarist Jack Dalrymple all contributing to what is, in my opinion, one of the band’s best record’s thus far. All killer, no filler (right Sum-41?). I’m jumping the gun about six weeks here, but screw it: Fistful of Hollow is the best record of 2015 (*Note = reviews was writen HERE ).
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