I shouldn’t blame Against Me!, but I kind of do. Thanks to those first two records, half the goddamn punks on earth seem to be going the route of the “solo acoustic artist.” Case in point: Cap’n Kops (that’s cute) and his 4-song CD-R. While I don’t automatically disagree with the one-guy-and-his-geetar format (after all, those first two Against Me! records—as well as folk icons like Billy Bragg and, yeah, I’ll say it, Dylan—are ceaselessly emulated and shamelessly ripped off for a reason), but when it’s just one guy, rather than a whole band, the errors are so much more glaring. There’s absolutely nothing to hide behind. There’s no veneer, there’s no distortion. You’re on your own. So while the Cap’n’s lyrics are generally a cut above other projects of this ilk, and they all have a nice anti-establishment thread running through ‘em, that’s about the only positive thing I can lay down. The guitar just plugs and plonks away and vocally he sounds like an atonal Justin Sane grumbling through a mouthful of Percosets, gauze, and duct tape. If you’re going to feasibly pull off the folk punk, you’re gonna have to dish out hooks galore and the kind of focused, pointed emotions that bands/guys like Tim Barry, Chuck Ragan, and Sundowner seem to be pulling off reasonably consistently. Enunciation and passion can be friends, man.
–keith (Sharpie Fumes)