Punk by its very nature is irreverent. If any punk band embodied that irreverence with a tongue-in-cheek bravura, a flair for the dramatic and unwavering willingness to politicize their views, it was the (Los) Angelino outfit, NOFX. With a dozen albums to date, various side projects, and their own record label, it is fair to say that NOFX are one of the most well-known and respected American punk bands, probably only superseded in stature and acclaim by Fugazi and Bad Religion. All three bands share a common bond: always playing music on their own unique and idiosyncratic terms. Where Fugazi and Bad Religion shoulder more of the “moral” and “intellectual” side of American Punk, NOFX were the skate-punk pranksters with a child-like obsession for mischief but a vastly under-appreciated sense of songcraft and wit.
(Perhaps the best evidence of their under recognized sophistication was the NOFX side project Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, essentially a punk rock musical theatre cover band. MF&GG’s version of “Don’t Cry For Me Argentina” actually makes you think Andrew Lloyd Webber’s music might have some redemptive quality. Who knew that a SoCal skate punk could bring more life to the song than Patti LuPone? Honestly, it’s about the only thing Patti LuPone couldn’t salvage.)
Of all the albums in NOFX’s extensive catalog, Punk In Drublic is far and away the most memorable from start to finish. 17 songs clocking in at amazingly efficient 40 minutes, Drublic helped define for years to come the West Coast punk sound. Unlike East Coast punk that drew from 60s American Rock as its point of departure, NOFX and West Coast Punk drew more from the power pop and guitar rock of the late 70s as well as their British counterparts, leading to a faster, thrash-ier, and, yet more often, polished sound. What always struck me about NOFX is how clean, crisp and concise their songs were. In fact, as much as I love punk rock, there are few punk records I can listen to from start to finish, Drublic is one of the few. Plus, if you can hear through the guitars and measured distortion, Fat Mike’s lyrics are both wonderfully caustic (see “Don’t Call Me White”; one of my favorite NOFX songs) and pleasantly comical (see “Linoleum” and “The Brews”) but always forthright, unabashed and unapologetic. The other highlights on the album include “Perfect Government” (a song calling out the double-sided nature of politicians) and the less than romantic yet touching duet “Lori Meyers”.
Enough talk, more punk rock: Listen to NOFX – Punk In Drublic.
Oi, Oi, Oi!!!