REPORT SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY: USA: CD

A supergroup record of sorts, albeit a weird one. Comprised of Vic Bondi (Articles Of Faith, Jones Very) on guitar and the majority of the vocals, J. Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines) on bass and backing vocals, and Darren Zentek (Kerosene 454) on drums, the concept itself of Report Suspicious Activity seems pretty dubious. A one-shot record made up of Vic Bondi and two dudes from mediocre-at-best “post punk” bands? And they play fifteen songs that are totally and unabashedly critical of the U.S. Government? Um, suuuure. It might work. But the thing is, I actually think they manage to pull it off pretty decently. About three-quarters of the record is riff-heavy and occasionally repetitive tunes with Bondi behind the mike. The other quarter is made up of what I assume to be Robbins’s influence; mid-tempo rock songs replete with “wocka-wocka” guitar lines and layered vocals, and the occasional piano. Sometimes it really works, sometimes it doesn’t. But what mostly saves this, for me, is Bondi’s awesome and pointed rage in these lyrics. When he bellows, “Don’t wait for the draft to start crying. You ought to be howling. All over the world they are dying for gas at three bucks a gallon. For Tivos in bunkers. Humvees at gun shows. We’ll measure convenience with the bodies of our sons and daughters. I’m not over the hill—you’re under it,” it’s done with such a fucking electrifying delivery that I’m willing to forgive certain things, like Robbins’s castrated and “smoothed-out” production and the occasionally plodding tune here and there. It’s refreshing to hear something like this from Bondi, who’s probably old enough to be my dad and has managed to release an album that’s possibly as cathartic for me to hear (or at least read) as it was for him to write. For every ass-patched and bullet-belted band that has the gumption to put some “skullfaced soldier standing in a field of bodies” illustration or some shittily xeroxed photo from some foreign massacre on their album cover, and then see how may times they can rhyme “war,” “more,” “poor,” and “score” on one 7”, maybe they should take a shot at lending themselves some credibility and try writing lyrics as good as this.

 –keith (Alternative Tentacles)