Gag

Reviews

Gag Killing for Both Realities 3 ’92 LP

This is the latest release from Olympia hardcore band GAG. Vice once called GAG “America’s new hardcore heroes.” Normally that’s a surefire way to turn me off of a band, but I think Vice might actually be right about something here. This LP is the lo-fi, grimy, sweaty basement hardcore mixtape we’ve been waiting for. Let’s get something straight though, this isn’t another wannabe ’80s hardcore revival band, they’re doing something really fresh here. At their best on tracks like “No Cops,” “Meth Lab,” or “Warm Milk,” they sound like a slightly less technical but more frenetic NOMEANSNO, and there really isn’t a moment on the LP where the band is at their worst. All things considered; this is easily some of the best hardcore I’ve heard coming from the Pacific Northwest recently.

Gag Still Laughing LP

After their disappointing previous full-length America’s Greatest Hits, I lost track of GAG and was surprised they still exist. I was also immediately interested in how they handle a second LP. Again their cover art concludes it well: Life is a strange mess, where overwhelmingly awkward events are at same time funny and frightening. So they laugh. There is an idea in which humor equals aggression and while this record is fun, there is a coping process that transforms their violent inputs into entertainment in a rather-laugh-than-cry way. It’s American hardcore rewound back to a crossroad where it already got jock-ish but kept its psychopath, lunatic vibe instead of its later form where it turned to ridiculously thugish. GAG’s record does as well, reacts angrily to the frozen madness of reality in an overpowering, unsophisticated way. Although here the anger invites, not deters. This comes through the riff-heavy record, where if one is killer then there is not gonna be any filler. The parts are ignorant but laid out in a meticulous system, tricked enough to keep the record constantly fun. It is fun if you love dumb hardcore, which despite how predictable it is, still transmits its physical influence. The imposing riffs are occasionally played in an airy manner, giving enough pace-space for the drums to break free from a forced, up-tempo simplification; the bridges are so effective it is ridiculous; elements from NO TREND-ish mindfuck appear and fit well. Not really getting the concept behind the intro/outro, since they sound so alien. Why they do not match with the body of the record is because this is not an experimenting, reinventing, transforming or redefining record of hardcore. It is and happens within hardcore. It can make fun of it, but even when it does, it does not demolish its walls, but reflects on the joy of the music. Which is great, and after all we are too trapped in a fucking celestial object and we got to make the best out of this imprisonment.