As many of you know, good, wholesome punk rock is not just an American thing. Middle Eastern punk rockers Useless ID can prove that and have been for almost 18 years. The foursome, who hail from Haifa, Israel, signed with Fat Wreck Chords last year and recently released Symptoms.
So what took Fat Wreck Chords so long for them to suck them in? Well, perhaps because the band never seems to sit still and is too busy playing shows all over the world and befriending anyone in their path. Regardless, Fat Wreck Chords has them now and I seriously doubt they will be letting go anytime soon.
Symptoms was recorded with the legendary Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore (Rise Against, NOFX) at The Blasting Room Studios once the band was able to come back to the states from their current hometown of Tel Aviv. The result of months of hard work is a pop punk gem that Fat Wreck Chords should be beyond proud of. (I’m talking “dad, I just won my first fistfight in grade school” proud.)
“Live or Die” started the 12-track album off full of pop punk goodness. I was set back at how great this song started off the album. The lyrics were catchy, the music was solid and I wanted more. Good thing I was only on the first track. Lucky for me “Before It Kills” followed with the same amount of substance I was already craving. Hell, the second track was better than the first.
“I’m just suffering with you” repeats throughout “Normal With You”, a very singable track. “Erratic” hints heavily towards something Lagwagon might have meant to do years ago. I loved the lyrics on this track a lot and found myself singing “Down over the low, there’s always something on my nerves that gets me so erratic” almost instantaneously. Add in a great breakdown halfway though, and you have yourself a must hear song on the album.
“Mani Depression” sounded to me like what would happen if the Descendants and Cobra Skulls would have joined forces. This was another killer track on the album and I think anyone who thinks that 90s punk rock is the best should take a listen to this track. I felt 18 all over again listening to it and favored this track over all of the others without a doubt. “Sleeping With Knives” was another track I just dug a whole lot. It was just one of those songs that once I listened to it for the first time, it felt like I had heard it a million times before.
If “Symptoms” was the post-breakup song, then “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” without a doubt was the “I’m so over you” realization. “Your obsessive compulsive disorder creeps me out, I don’t want it” loops throughout the track that hints at anything more than to go away. “Somewhere”, on the other hand, ended the album with almost a feared reconciliation.
If i had to describe what Useless ID sounded like to someone, I would tell them to take the pop punk from the Ataris, vocals of Milo and mix them up with loads of Cali 90s punk rock riffs. Symptoms has been in the CD player of my car for weeks now. I have listened to it over and over form start to finish and each time it ends I just tell myself that I need another listen.
It’s early on in 2012 and Symptoms already has a place on my best of list. This was a shocker of a release for me. I have a split by them as well as The Lost Broken Bones, but there is just something about this album that has turned them from a punk band I like, to one I adore. This is about the time when I tell everyone that I will be digging into their catalog. That is a given. If you like 90s punk rock you need to check out Useless ID’s latest release.