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  Situationist Comedy  
  Situationist Comedy  
  Fat Wreck Chords  
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Not counting Olympian gods like Superchunk, The Dillinger Four are my new favorite band. I so loved Situationist Comedy that I bought the back catalogue in total. I have yet to be disappointed by any of it.

Describing this band is probably going to be an exercise in cliché avoidance. They are, without qualification or question, a punk rock band. Real punk rock, not that knock-off discount brand shit you see at Target. Punk rock that both cares deeply about the state of the world but admits up front that we’d just as soon slit your throat as deal with your shit; that sort of punk.

Most people who speak of these things shoehorn D4 into the ‘pop punk’ sub-folder then spend the next five paragraphs explaining why “regardless, they’re much better than Blink 182.” This is a disservice to Dillinger Four, in my humble opinion, and a critical fallacy on the part of those reviewers. Dillinger Four are not a pop punk band that just so happens not to be smarmy, self-obsessive prima donnas. On the contrary, D4 are a hardcore punk rock band that happens to be able to carry a tune.

There’s a subtle difference at work here. Dillinger Four’s genealogy is properly traced through Black Flag and Minor Threat. These guys are much more the children of Ian MacKaye than Billie Joe Armstrong. (NOTE: I like Billie Joe’s band, but his children tend to suck.) Yes, they toured with Billie Joe’s band, but that’s because they, like Billie Joe’s band, are descendents of a much straighter branch of the Punk Tree than, oh, Sum 41.

Situationist Comedy is a wonderful record. Everyone should own it. Steal it if you have to. They’re punks, they won’t mind. It has the anger mixed with the outrage mixed with the intelligence that is the true pre-requisite of all great punk records. And it RAWKS!

I’m not going to go through a track by track listing, firstly because all of the song names are meaningless as far as I can tell, and secondly because most of them sound vaguely alike. They’re punk rock songs, for the love of Christ. They’re not about ornate or subtle variations that build upon operatic themes. They’re about punk rock. If you don’t get that tautology, you’re probably not going to get the songs, and thus the band either.

What I am going to do, in closing, is tell you a little story about myself. (Because I’m a Music Critic, and that’s all we ever really do anyway.)

I work in an office park in Alpharetta. I manage a database for a software company. I live, for the eight-hour business day, on The Cubicle Farm of Corporate America, in a branch office in The Protestant Suburbs. I spend the vast majority of my life with the least punk-rock people you are ever likely to meet. Strangely enough, I tend to like most of them on an individual level. Its only when I think about them on a meta-level that I feel the bile in the back of the throat.

Most of my days are pleasant enough. As a back office techie, I don’t have to deal much with the real corporate schnozs up front. But when I do, when I have one of those days where the sales weasels are simply unbearable, or when the marketing smiles are too gleaming to stomach, I put on the headset and listen to Dillinger Four. The moment I get out of that is sublime. Every time, it reminds me of a scene from Peter Jackson’s LOTR: The Two Towers.

Frodo and Sam Gamgee have recently captured the creature Gollum and Frodo is attempting to tame him. After some serious internal conflict, the human soul that still resides within Gollum, a hobbit like creature known as Smeagol, retakes control of him self and banishes “Gollum” for a time. The scene in question occurs the morning after this transformation. With the weight of Gollum removed from his soul, Smeagol dances around a creek bed, diving in and out of the water, fishing with his bare hands for a nice morning meal. He is existentially free; overjoyed; nigh ecstatic now that the ring of Gollum’s evil is removed from his neck. He dives into the stream, catches a fish, smashes it open on the rock and tears out the fleshy middle with his teeth. In the glow of a returned innocence that for 500 years he hasn’t dared dream of, he doesn’t notice the two hobbits’ approach until they are near enough to speak. When he notices them he graciously offers them some breakfast.

It is the most beautiful moment in the film, a perfect visual capture of a tortured soul’s brief return to innocence. When I put on my headset, full of fury and disdain for the world around me, and I queue up D4’s bombastic catharsis, I feel like Gollum-cum-Smeagol in that scene. I dance, in my head, a spastic, hand flailing, stream diving, fish-snaring dance of freedom. I imagine the guy two cubes down as a nice, stupid, unsuspecting salmon, and I picture my working space as a crag of flesh-ripping granite. And I smile at the thought of breakfast, as innocent as the day I was born.

This is punk rock. This is what punk rock is supposed to do for you. If you get it, buy this album.

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