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Bombs and the Bible

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Album Review

After a decade-plus of opening gigs for such Left Coast big leaguers as Social Distortion and Bad Religion, L.A.'s Mad Parade returned in 2000 with renewed vigor and a new label in Cali indie Dr. Strange. Bombs and the Bible, the band's second LP of new material for the label, is an unabashedly old school effort that suggests not only the West Coast scene that MP came of age in, but also the second-wave punk sound of England, circa 1979: G.B.H., the Adicts, and the like. For Bombs and the Bible's first few minutes, head Mad Parader Billy Ledges' warbling, oddly articulated yell is hard to figure out. Over the straightforward anthemics of "Countdown" (which comes complete with a ringing lead guitar line from Joey Kelly), Ledges can sound a little over the hill. But, by the gang chorus of "Teenage Magazine," it's clear that this kind of punk revivalism needs a more, ahem, mature approach. The rousing "Prisoner" only backs this feeling up, with its rumbling guitars and shoutable lyrics tailored to the homemade denim vest crowd. It takes a band as old as the Boomtown Rats to deliver a punk'd version of "I Don't Like Mondays" with as much aplomb as Mad Parade does here, adding none of the snickering irony that a freshly-scrubbed outfit of punks who graduated high school in 1999 surely would have. What's even more refreshing about Bombs and the Bible is Mad Parade's own refusal to try and compete with those younger guys. Sure, the album's production updates the band's attack a bit. But from the double-time snare fills of "Frightening," to "Eye in the Sky"'s celebration of their roots in the street, Mad Parade is proud of its status as West Coast punk veterans. The finale, "Shanty Towne," even bristles with the oath "I hope I never/never act my age." Don't mistake this look backward for wistful sentimentality; as the 9/11 warning tale "Murder in Manhattan" proves, Mad Parade is still moving forward as a band. But by sticking to its guns and delivering an album full of the no-frills punk it's always done best, Mad Parade makes many of today's greenhorns look sheepish, and might finally get some of the respect it's maybe always deserved.

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