SMOGTOWN: Führers of the New Wave (20th Anniversary Edition): LP

It isn’t often that you get to review an album that has been a part of your life for twenty years. I still remember the day I heard Führers of the New Wave for the first time. My pal Dustin Jak made a tape for me and we listened to it in my car on the way to band practice. He explained that it was a concept album telling the story of a band of miscreants doing battle with the boring suburban status quo and their soldiers Bodie 601. I was instantly enthralled. I could pick out elements of the story in the songs, but it didn’t seem to be linear. It didn’t matter because it was (and still is) one of the best albums ever. Now here we are twenty(?!) years later and the record has been given the anniversary treatment. A remix and remaster by original recorder Jerry Adamowicz and a revelation. There was a reason why the story didn’t seem linear. The original release did not have the songs in the originally anticipated order for one reason or another. This is the first time the songs have been presented in the order they were intended. Prior to listening I had concerns. The album has sounded a certain way and in a certain order for two decades. Is changing it up going to fuck it over? The answer is a resounding “hell no!” The new mix is bright, and the songs are a fresh as ever. It was shocking how clear the overreaching story is with the songs in this order. Even parts I have been singing along to for years but had no idea how they fit the narrative became key plot points. We now have this interesting situation where there now exists two versions of the same album with both being vastly different and are equally crucial. How often does that happen? I can’t imagine that you’re reading Razorcake and not aware of Smogtown (and Gross Polluter), but if for some reason you’ve missed out, you need to rectify that immediately. Smog City Waver #114 signing off. –Ty Stranglehold (Garage Rock)