I am sitting here trying to figure out how to start this review about an Oi!/Street Punk/Folk band that has been around for over two decades. They are one of the O.F.W.C. (Original Fat Wreck Chords – I made that up) members and have been a huge influence to my punk rock ears ever since I was a teen.
The band I speak of is none other than the Swingin’ Utters and after eight years, the band has dropped Here, Under Protest, perhaps the best thing I have heard ever from the San Francisco band. Seriously, I can not stop listening to this album, it is amazing.
Where do I start? Could it be that the band sounds more polished than ever? Could it be that Johnny Bonnel, Spike Slawson (Me First & The Gimme Gimmes), Daris Koski AND Jack Dalrymple (Dead To Me) share singing duties throughout the release without any sort of conflict? With all the elements making up the Utters these days, one would think they are a modern day punk rock superband, one I should add that is not a complete joke.
Orson Welles is heard at the beginning of the CD saying “here under protest is beef burgers.” This line comes from the historic film icon when he was narrating a advertisement for a British company called Findus. Yes, I searched the internet to find that out. I knew it was his voice the moment I heard it, but wanted to know more.
“Brand New Lungs” started off the album and I knew right then that the album was going to be an instant gem. Granted I already had heard the song last summer when the band dropped a 3-song 7″ to tide fans over till the full-length released, the fact of the matter is that the song is solid and perhaps the catchiest track on the entire album. Bonnel’s raspy voice has never been more welcomed to my ears during this song.
“Taking The Long Way” followed and just kept that great sound continuing to impress me. The lyrics were interesting as they spoke of basically planting your feet. “Kick It Over”, featuring Koski on vocals, was a great track that shied away from the usual Utters sound and hinted back to the earlier days of punk rock. “Good Things” was a little heavier with Bonnel just giving reasons throughout to get hammered. They don’t call him Johnny “Piss Pants” for nothing you know… “Heavy Head” was just a smooth track – Nothing more, nothing less.
“(You’ve Got To) Give It All To The Man” was the heaviest, old-school Utters sounding track on the entire album. Fast paced and to the point, this song screamed 90’s punk rock all the way through. “Time On My Own” had Koski back on lead vocals and continued with that fun punk rock vibe that took me back to a teen.
The folky “Scary Brittle Frame” may have sounded like nothing else on the album, but it was my favorite track. I really wish the Utters would just drop an all folk album one of these days. They do such a great job creating songs here and there that can be found throughout their catalog it would just make sense a full length.
The final track on the album, “Effortless Amnesiac”, was another catchy as hell punk track with Dalrymple taking over vocal duties. After hear this track I really hope, should he stick around with the band, that he be featured on more future tracks seeing how his singing fit in so well with the music.
It amazes me that a band that has been in the game for so long still has no problem creating such a great release. Here, Under Protest is good, wholesome punk rock from a group of guys who know exactly what they are capable of.
This new Utters mateiral may not be as Oi!/Street Punk/Folky as they used to be and rub off more as Filthy Theiving Bastards at times, but that is ok by me. Here, Under Protest, hands down, is one of my favorite punk rock albums so far in 2011. 20 years in the business is never an easy feat, but the Utters have no problem continuing onward.