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Lagwagon

Mark my words: In the coming year, no fewer than three independent-label punk bands — at least one Nordic — will record sloppy versions of "Automatic," Resolve's amazing closing track. Moreover, the pressing substance of Resolve will inspire approximately 163 kids to clear boxes of wrapping paper out of the garage to make room for their first amplifiers. Lagwagon is the Cinderella of baseball-hat punk. While stepsisters NOFX and Bad Religion are off to the ball, Lagwagon diligently scrubs its guitars for a smaller, slightly older crowd. Dedicated to fallen drummer Derrick Plourde, Resolve is an emotional purging on par with the little-known Putrid Flowers. "Runs in the Family" explores the personal implications of a nation on orange alert, while "The Contortionist" views the body's last pose as more than CSI fodder: "For a spell, the soul resides/In a yellow chalk outline." Mature vocals and advanced musicianship solidify this important eulogy.

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Rick Skidmore