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First World Manifesto

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Album Review

First World Manifesto is Screeching Weasel’s first outing since 2000’s Teen Punks in Heat, and it finds veteran punk frontman Ben Weasel in a rebuilding period. After several tumultuous years of legal disputes over record rights, his right-hand guitarist John Jughead was replaced. As the last remaining original member of the group, Weasel took a handful of tunes that were written in the time off and reshaped them with the help of Dan Vapid (who has been in and out of the band since 1989) and some new bandmates, guitarist Drew Fredrichsen, drummer Adam Cargin, and bassist Justin Perkins. It could be because the new recruits are younger, or because of the slick production by the All-American Rejects’ Mike Kennerty, but in 2011 Screeching Weasel sound more in line with their modern-day punk peers than ever before. But Weasel is far from comfortable. Spite floods the record as the vocalist consistently takes issue, pointing his finger at society (“Come and See the Violence Inherent in the System”), ex-girlfriends (“Frankengirl,” which features guest vocals by the Mr. T Experience’s Dr. Frank), punk rock scenesters (“Follow Your Leaders”), and even labelmates (“Little Big Man”). Although the rage gauge occasionally hits the red, the melodies are too sugary and catchy to feel sincerely scathing. First World Manifesto rides the line nicely between sweet and sour, kind of like a hate letter written in crayon.


Formed: 1986 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Chicago's Screeching Weasel generally have a polarizing effect on most punk fans -- either you love their amateurish, tuneful Ramones imitation and singer/guitarist Ben Weasel's smartass suburbanite, often pop culture-oriented lyrics, or you hate them. Over the course of the band's career, which lasted for more than a decade and saw several breakups and numerous personnel changes, Weasel (in spite of occasional nitpicking from critics) remained true to his staunch D.I.Y. indie ethics, as befits a...
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First World Manifesto, Screeching Weasel
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