Not that anyone should care, but I work on many of my reviews for Razorcake up in the northwoods of Wisconsin, far, far away from poisonous Jell-O salads like MTV and Rolling Stone. It seems to afford me a certain mindset uncluttered with the detritus of music industry advertising and fashion trends. I mention this here only because, as I sit here in my antique lawn chair, sipping a beer, about to write down my salient thoughts about the Casualties, there is, coincidentally enough, a punk rock woodpecker pecking at a tree about fifteen feet from where I sit. In all my years of ducking humanity up here in the woods, I’ve never seen a woodpecker like this one. It has a thick black body and a white head with a streak of black cutting across its eyes and making it look a little bit like the mask the Riddler used to wear on the old timey Batman TV show. But the important part here, is that sitting atop its white and black burglar head is a genuine red mohawk. No shit. This woodpecker has a better mohawk than Wattie ever had in his wildest dimwit dreams. Talk about synchronicities; I just grab a beer, pop the CD in the player and sit down and—floom—this woodpecker that effortlessly makes clear everything that’s wrong with so many of the Ronald McPunks of the world, shows up and basically drops this review in my lap as if it were letting loose digested ants and inchworms from its lower regions. So here’s the poop, so to speak: be it a mohawk or a Jennifer Anniston or whatever hair arrangement you want, that’s fine. Go crazy with it, if you want. Harden it with your own filth and string it with Satan-mas lights. But no matter to what degree you torture your hair to peacockish flamboyancy, you’re just never going to have a mohawk as real and as cool as this woodpecker’s just a few feet away from me. And he or she didn’t color it with kool-aid or mold it with Krazy Glue or use some DIY mohawk kit purchased at Hot Topic. It’s natural. And if there ever was such a thing as a Punk Rock Bible, it should consist of nothing more than one page with one lone sentence on it that reads: be real. Wow, who’da thunk a stupid woodpecker and a stupid Casualties disc could so quickly whip me up into a pontificating blowhard? And only on my first beer. Life can be funny sometimes. I think it was John Denver who said “life ain’t nothin’ but a funny, funny riddle” and damned if he wasn’t right. So riddle me this: are the Casualties chemically altered hairdos mere clownish affectation or are they striking, porcupiney examples of angry self-expression? I’m guessing that’s one of those DFY—decide for yourself—sort of things. All I know is that my punk rock woodpecker friend, who has since moved on to another tree, seemed as genuine as genuine can be—whereas, when I look at the cover of this CD with these dolled-up mannequins looking all grouchy and mean in their spiky leather and spiky hairdos, I get a sad whiff of the mothball odor of people who’ve only got part of the puzzle figured out, but think they’ve cashed in on the big prize. In this case it’s a booby prize. Oh, and lest we forget, there’s the music. Well, even if you haven’t heard the Casualties before, you know what to expect: tough, snarly, and constipated (and on this particular disc, it’s in Spanish). Sorry boys, you’re not scaring anybody. Conformity as nonconformity still sucks. And the only feathers you stand to ruffle are those of the mayonnaise people who spend their money and energy on the less punkish affectations like fake tans and collagen-pumped lips and bleached choppers. And they’re not paying attention to you anyway. Go try scaring someone who matters. Your oh-so-important look is what the punk rock woodpecker pulls off without even trying. You, my friends, are trying too damn hard. Oof, that’s enough of that. I know this hasn’t been a very punk rock way to review this disc and I might someday consider apologizing for it if I made the band’s plumages bristle. But I doubt it.
–aphid (Side One Dummy)