Monday, January 9, 2012

Good Riddance - A Comprehensive Guide To Modern Rebellion

Good Riddance - A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Rebellion
Release - 1996

Story by Mike Riley, singer for Pulling Teeth.

Editor's note:  Since this is an album on a major label, there is no download link available.

I was a freshman in college in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD in 1994 and completely immersed in the Victory, Equal Vision, New Age and Revelation Records catalogs of the time.  I was a straight edge hardcore kid from New Jersey in a new place and in need of new friends as the kids I went to shows with were at other colleges around the country.  I befriended a kid who was pretty well-versed in the local punk scene, but didn't care for much hardcore, so by default of no one else to attend shows with, he was my bridge to the more melodic elements of hc/punk.  I first heard Good Riddance through Fat Wreck Chord's first sampler compilation, Fat Music for Fat People, which I was handed as my friend and I entered the (original) 9:30 Club to see NOFX, Face to Face and Ten Foot Pole.  "United Cigar" was their contribution to the comp, and while I liked the track, the attraction wasn't as great as the tracks from other bands that were new to me like Propagandhi, Guns 'n' Wankers and No Use For A Name. Nevertheless, I did enjoy it enough to pick up their second album, A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Rebellion, when it came out in 1996. From the opening sample and first few chords, I was hooked, and thus began a fifteen-year love affair with what would become one of my all-time favorite bands.

I think the thing that separated Good Riddance from the other Epi-Fat bands of the time were the lyrics.  While most of their peers' songwriting aimed at ten year-old schoolboy humor, Good Riddance was blasting politicians, white male privilege, drug abuse, occupation veiled as military intervention and American mediocrity, which were the types of lyrics that attracted me to hardcore in the first place.  In addition to that, they could write songs about relationships like no punk band I'd heard since the Descendents. Check out songs like "A Credit To His Gender," "Last Believer," "Favorite Son" and "Bittersweet" for prime examples or Russ Rankin's power with lyrics.  Musically, they played tight, fast melodic hardcore with that West Coast punk drumming style.  Probably equally influenced by Dag Nasty and Marginal Man as they were by Bad Religion and the Descendents. They were also one of those rare bands that could slow it down for a more melancholic song as well as they could bash through a ripper.

As a bonus to the great Good Riddance tunes, this album also features two excellent covers: The Kinks' "Come Dancing" and "Hall of Fame" by Government Issue (as the secret track).  As much as I've liked pretty much everything that this band released, A Comprehensive Guide to Modern Rebellion will always be my favorite.

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