FLAG OF DEMOCRACY: Shatter Your Day: 2 x LP

May 08, 2013

For every Black Flag, Misfits, and Dead Kennedys—pretty much world-wide known punk bands—there were “regional” punk bands that could toe up the to the heavyweights on any given night. Battalion Of Saints in San Diego, Toxic Reasons in Dayton, OH, Articles Of Faith in Chicago. Flag Of Democracy ruled Philadelphia (technically Ambler, PA). First show in ‘82, they opened up for Minor Threat and Agnostic Front. Through whatever machinations—luck? Secondary market? Drugs? Starting families? Van troubles? Someone’s flakiness?—who knows why the roulette wheel’s ball of worldwide recognition didn’t end up in F.O.D.’s slot. It definitely can’t be from lack of persistence. Lead singer/guitarist Jim McMongale’s been at it for thirty-one years and 2010 saw the release of a new record (of which I had unreleased demos, from 2005? 2006?). Nope, they’re not resting on laurels. They ain’t rock stars in paupers’ clothing or 40oz. dirtbags with 401(k)s. Their twenty-fifth anniversary was held in the FirstUnitarianChurch. Shatter Your Day was F.O.D.’s debut album in 1986. It’s fast-as-hell, noisy, and strange. Jim’s voice is strangulated, cartoony—comparative to Jello Biafra’s—but not a put-on. Some folks just have unique voices when they start yellin’. What I unabashedly enjoy is that in 1986, so much of American hardcore’s foundation had been cemented—shit, by that time, a lot of it had started to crumble—and F.O.D. sound so fucking exuberant, like there’s this joy in marking up a sidewalk of freshly poured concrete. Another thing strikes me is how, beyond the blur of speed there are all these wound-up melodies and flitting guitar notes. It’s not slash-burn-chest-beat-caveman-rawr. What makes this packaging superior? Thirty-three bonus tracks. The Chinese Food and Love Songs EPs in their entirety, comp tracks, live tracks, demos, previously rejected versions of songs, sticker sheet (!), big-ass button, mini-poster, MP3s. It’s obviously a labor of love, an act of unmitigated appreciation, and a punk public service. SRA, thanks for putting this out. F.O.D. is an American punk rock building block.

 –todd (SRA, srarecords.com, flagofdemocracy.com)