by Scott Deckman
The Regime are a young San Diego punk band with roots even deeper than that scene, with a sound harkening back to ’77 Clash (or their famous imitators, Rancid). On the band’s eponymous full-length debut, the Regime features dual singers, so you get a more mainstream rock vox on one hand (bassist Kenny Hill), and a tougher voice on the other (guitarist Todd Allen, who sings eight songs to Hill’s five). You also get a fusillade of sound and fury.
True, a bit of this sounds like the work of young, naïve punks (weren’t we all once?), but on some tracks, the Regime play beyond their years. “She’s Got Nothin’,” sung by Allen, sounds like a Rancid outtake. The song features pogo bass with guitar parts all over the place. Allen even sounds a bit like Tim Armstrong here. The song also has a weird, foreboding Sonic Youth-type outro, all stringy feedback. But most of all, it’s got heart.
While this genre can get a bit rote, the Regime generally avoid this fate due to their musicality and occasional hook. They also feature Hill’s bouncy bass playing throughout, which helps fill out the band’s sound. I know this is cliché, but sometimes their music is so manic and shambolic that it seems about to fall apart, but never does. Somehow, the Regime keep it together. See song number four, “Hurt,” for example. It features several momentum shifts, with furious guitars being the highlight.
One other thing going for them: The sound quality on The Regime is really impressive for a self-produced release. I don’t care how far they go or what they do, the Regime may be one of the few bands who’re better off producing themselves, or at least having a huge say in the matter. Yes, songwriting and arraignments can always be improved, but the sound on this record – which is at least as important to the product as anything else, maybe more – is very immediate. It balances grit and clarity, complimenting the music perfectly.
While the Clash, and especially Rancid, are antecedents (minus the ska influence), SoCal punk titans Bad Religion and the Offspring are there in equal parts, too. The band (their music at least) resides in the down-and-dirty wing of their geo-scene rather than the pop-punk side, if they belong there at all.
“Mankind” is a hard rock, radio-friendly song (other than the swear words and comically violent lyrics), and I don’t even know that I like it, but ultimately, it’s not up to me to decide, it’s up to you. “By Pattern” is the record’s best effort, featuring trad punk riffing, prominent bass and a nifty chorus (replete with choice “ahh” background vocals). The song actually has several parts, all blended pretty well. Okay, maybe the arrangement could be further streamlined, but it’s catchy as hell. Listening to it, you really do feel like you’re in the 100 Club in London in 1976 or 1977 with pierced and ghoulish teens slamming into you.
If we lived in a punk rock world, this song would be a hit.
Closer “Breathing Room” nicks the propulsive beat of the Supersuckers’ “Clueless,” though I’m not sure the Regime have even heard of the Supersuckers (stranger things have happened), before devolving into a masturbatory noisefest. But it’s their record, who am I to judge?
Subject matter on The Regime runs from chicks and the familial, to personal and societal concerns. And like many punks, these boys aren’t scared of the political. “Powerful On Paper” is a harangue on the hypocrisy of war, which I take to mean our current (illegal?) wars in the Middle East, while “Sharia’s Fist” tells the tale of an arraigned marriage gone bad (as if that kind of thing could ever go good). Better not alert Morris Dees, less the Regime end up on that spurious organization’s Hatewatch!
This is driving, testosterone-laden punk rock from the guys next door. Not a perfect release by any means, the Regime are nonetheless a band with a huge guitar and bass sound, loads of energy, and, best of all, promise.