Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Review: Pick Your Side - Let Me Show You How Democracy Works

Pick Your Side

Let Me Show You How Democracy Works

Track Listing:
1. Dark Future
2. Plug-In Generation
3. More Cops, More Crime!
4. Meltdown
5. How to Cope
6. Looking Back
7. Paranoid or Prepared?
8. This Too Shall Pass
8. My Troubles
10. Ham Sandwich
11. Doomsday Demise
12. It Could Be Better...
13. Matter of Time
14. New War
15. It's All Your Fault
16. No Good Will Come From This
17. 2 Headed Snake
18. Right Turn

As someone who grew up in the late 90's Southern Ontario hardcore scene, Haymaker was a band to be both revered and feared. If you are unfamiliar with their threat-filled lyrics, violent live shows, and general disdain for most things on earth, then you have some catching up to do.  Getting to witness Haymaker's mayhem live was a rare opportunity to see what it was to be truly angry at the world and finally have a platform from which to scream.  In short, it was everything hardcore should be.  Fast. Angry. Political. And bullshit-free.

Saying that I had high hopes for Pick Your Side's first full length would be an understatement. A rabid Haymaker fan, and longtime supporter of Fuck the Facts, when I heard that members from these two bands were forming a group I was thoroughly excited in every non-sexual way imaginable.  Having said that, I knew that such anticipation can often lead to disappointment and 'bands were better when I was younger'-type attitudes rather quickly.  Fortunately, Let Me Show You How Democracy Works led to none of these things.  What I first noticed when I put on this album was the marked improvement in production over the band's 7" release from last year.  While still maintaining that gritty and rough quality that we've all come to expect from Jeff Beckman-related projects, the solid and full production quality helps enhance rather than hinder all 18 frenzied and furious songs.

While tracks like "Dark Future" and "Meltdown" will leave even the most ardent Haymaker fan satisfied, the metallic elements of songs like "How to Cope" and "Right Turn" help differentiate Pick Your Side from any of the members' previous projects.  The most surprising track of the album is by far "Ham Sandwich".  Not because singer Jeff Beckman calls for the destruction of various religions, but because it is much more of a sludge metal song than anything....and it's a good one!  It is these departures from the awesome, albeit formulaic, hardcore song writing that makes this album so enjoyable.

Final Word: I could go on about all the various nuances of this album, and how no topic is too taboo for Beckman to address and condemn, but this really is an album that has to be heard.  The record is a call back to an earlier and angrier age of hardcore when it needs to be, but it's also a fresh reminder that musical growth and variety is still be possible when your average song length is only about a minute and a half.

Favourite Tracks: Plug-In Generation, How to Cope, This Too Shall Pass.

Buy this album now!  It's better than anything else you were planning on buying.

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