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Blackhawks Over Los Angeles

Strung Out

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Album Review

Strung Out has been comfortably residing over at Fat Wreck for close to 15 years now, but it's clear from one listen to Blackhawks Over Los Angeles that the guys are hardly resting on their laurels. The band has perfected its metal-infused skatepunk to ridiculously tight, guitar-shredding proportions, razor sharp licks pairing with precise, rapid-fire drumming to knock listeners over again and again. But as always, Strung Out's aggression is perfectly complemented by the slightly worn yet fiercely passionate vocals of Jason Cruz; the subtle tenderness he brings to the table keeps their collective power in check, ensuring there to be just as much heart as muscle in the proceedings. Rich sonics dominate the apocalyptic landscape of Blackhawks, where the war comes right to American soil. Strung Out is frustrated, angry and disenchanted by the government and their seemingly endless bloodshed, yet through it all, Cruz manages to embody and convey a certain sense of hope. The blazing opener "Calling" probes "Does anybody out there get the message that I send?," while the exhilarating "A War Called Home" professes "I was the son of the promised land/whose father's youth was lost in Vietnam...Come sing along with me our song/It can't be wrong/We are the last remains to carry on." There is such a pressing urgency and invigorating vitality pervading these songs that you can't help but want to pump a first straight into the air (regardless of being stuck in the middle of traffic or a moshpit), and these qualities aren't lost even in the handful of more pop-oriented cuts like the excellent "All the Nations" and "Dirty Little Secret." To put it simply, Blackhawks Over Los Angeles is a bracing, forceful and straight-up rocking album that earns Strung Out one hell of a gold star.

Biography

Formed: 1992 in California

Genre: Alternative

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

Southern California punkers Strung Out were formed in 1992, with a lineup featuring vocalist Jason Cruz, guitarists Jake Kiley and Rob Ramos, bassist Jim Cherry, and drummer Jordan Burns (formerly of Ten Foot Pole, who joined up after the band's first 7"). The quintet signed with NOFX bassist Fat Mike's Fat Wreck Chords label in 1993 and issued a debut album, Another Day in Paradise, the following year. The band took an artistic leap forward with the 1996 follow-up, Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues,...
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Blackhawks Over Los Angeles, Strung Out
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