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An American Paradox

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Album Review

It had been four years since Strung Out's last album, Twisted by Design, but it was well worth the wait. An American Paradox finds the group as hard hitting as ever, their music still a machine-gun fire of heavy-hitting sounds blending hardcore punk and lashings of metal frothed with harmonies and whipped up by the strong melodies. Behind the power and fury of the music, however, lies the eloquence of the lyrics, the band's true forte. Pretty much anyone can play raging hardcore, but Strung Out does it better and with more conviction than most; it's their words that truly connect them to the audience. Theirs is the lyricism of an all-night talk-fest, when suddenly thoughts crystallize and words become inspired and effortlessly skewer, amplify, and clarify salient discussion points. Even as Jason Cruz pours forth on "Alien Amplifier," "I'm wasting precious time on words that never seem to get through to anybody else," he's capturing the frustration of writer's block, the inner confusion of the tongue-tied who can never spit out the words they mean, the fury at the world's inability to communicate. With "The Kids," the quintet encapsulates teenaged nihilism, the overwhelming desire to tear the world down and build it up again afresh. The Sex Pistols raged about anarchy, but Strung Out is more nuanced and recognizes the hope that lives within destruction. That destructive force is taken into the personal realm on "Kill Your Scene," a furious assault on drama queens (or kings). Television gets an equal comeuppance and even sex gets a look, if an uncomfortable one, as does L.A. itself on "Cemetery," whose haunting line, "The sun holds no regrets/The natives sway under arrest/As all the stars fall from the sky," is sure to resonate with anyone familiar with the city of angels. The title track strikes out at a myriad of cultural touchstones, a meaty song meant for listeners to mull over.


Formed: 1989 in Simi Valley, CA

Genre: Alternative

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

Mixing up punk speed, metal guitar power, and a dash of electronics for seasoning, Southern California rockers Strung Out were formed in 1989, with a lineup featuring vocalist Jason Cruz, guitarists Jake Kiley and Rob Ramos, bassist Jim Cherry, and drummer Adam Austin. By the time the band released their first 7", Austin had been replaced by Jordan Burns, formerly of Ten Foot Pole. The quintet signed with NOFX bassist Fat Mike's Fat Wreck Chords label in 1993 and issued a debut album, Another Day...
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An American Paradox, Strung Out
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