In 1994, I drew a line in the sand. A friend and I were in a Richmond skateshop when this catchy, snotty punk came on the stereo. I asked the guy at the counter, “Is this NOFX?” He got a get with it look on his face and said, “No dude, it’s Lagwagon.” I thought, Whatever. I’m gonna go spend my money on the new Fugazi, and skated to the record store. From there on out, I preferred artier punk, and dismissed Lagwagon as one of many slick and generic Fat Wreck bands: the band on the T-shirt of the kid at the show who doesn’t know pit courtesy; the sticker taped to the window of a new car to keep it from damaging the paintjob. Near twenty years later, I meet people who have a soft spot for Lagwagon, and sometimes wonder if they were a hidden gem on the Fat roster, like Snuff. Enter this deluxe reissue of Lagwagon’s 1996 album, Hoss, and a litany of questions: Who is the audience for this? Who still buys CDs? Will grown-up skaterats buy this on a nostalgia trip and pop it into their car stereo and dream of carefree days on the commute to their dead-end job? Will they be excited? Let down? Will this bring Lagwagon to a new audience of young people? Do young people even still buy CDs? Fat improved in the mid-’00s when they started releasing music by some of the slicker bands that you’d hear at The Fest, so why are they looking back? I popped the CD on, hoping to hear a glimmer of what made them a teenage favorite for so many of my friends. It was better than I would have guessed back in the ‘90s, but not much of a thrill. The CD’s presence inspired a stronger reaction than the music contained within. Hoss sounds like mid-’90s skatepunk with a touch of the same melancholy that the Lemonheads felt in the ‘80s. Maybe I had to be there the first time around.
–CT Terry (Fat Wreck)