The Raging Nathans – Oppositional Defiance (Rad Girlfriend Records / Brassneck Records, 2020)

There’s few bands out there that I seemingly truly can’t get enough of. The Raging Nathans would be one of them. The band (assuming you haven’t encountered them before on these pages, or indeed elsewhere) hail from Dayton, Ohio. I guess the most straight forward summary of the overall sound would be trad pop punk in the vein of much of the stuff doing the rounds on Look Out Records in the 1990s given a bit of an aggressive going ovr with an EpiFat cheesegrater (circa the same period, obvs). That’s kinda my favourite era, at heart; even spreading out of the punk rock germ pool.

I suppose a lot of those bands that adhere to the broader Look Out / EpiFat playbook (much as I often love ’em) tend to be one trick ponies. This is an area in which The Raging Nathans seem to repeatedly buck the trend. Each record (whether full length or split 7in or whatever in between) seems to bring something noticably new to the mix (without reinventing the wheel, which is a very ambitious and ultimately worthless endeavour). And I think that is what keeps me coming back to these guys more than many of their contemporaries.

So let me lay out the template: Blink 182’s Dude Ranch without the crass humour and teenage bullshit (face it, that record is still so fucking good amidst the occasional cringe moment) sutured to the twitching corpse of Screeching Weasel (before Ben Weasel particularly started doing stuff that sucked) with heavy gauge steel cable. OK – so what’s new this time then? OK, go with me here; I’m going to throw out there the first couple of Propagandhi records on Fat (How To Clean Everything and Less Talk, More Rock) meets Goddammit era Alkaline Trio and From The Bottom era Off With Their Heads. I’m also really feeling again that rabid undercurrent of metalicised skatepunk as demonstrated by late era RKL (see the one-two thrust of Parole Violation and Signals) that I picked out in my review of their split with Pizzatramp. However this is heavily tempered by an unashamed dousing in the ever-forgivable bucket of the holy trinity of No Use For A Name records (Daily Grind, iLeche Con Carne!, and Making Friends since you didn’t ask – that shit’s untouchable) evident in tracks like Outside.

From reading that, and probably from viewing some of the Raging Nathans promotional video clips, I’m more than certain people new to the band are going to assume some sort of cartoonish persona. However, let me assure you that geniously daft videos asides, this band write songs about serious stuff. If anything, I’d venture that they are more serious than ever. In fact a theme that seems to recur through this record is one relating to gun violence, and in particular a tragic event that happened in the not too distant past outside singer Josh Goldman’s place of work, Blind Bob’s bar, in which a number of people (including patrons of the bar) were killed and seriously injured in a shooting. Understandably, this is something that’s had a a huge impact on Josh, his friends and family.

Elsewhere, the all too familiar territory of existential self-flagellation, social disenfranchisement, the collapse of friendships over time, big-time regrets of the shoulda/coulda variety is returned to; rather like a morbid ghoul haunting your local necropolis. Which is of course exactly what I (and you, if you are honest) want to hear. Because it rings true, innit. And in that we find the cartharsis we crave (via a bit of wallowing, obvs, mate).

The day that The Raging motherfucking Nathans put a foot wrong is probably the day that I quit this writing gig. Solid gold hit after solid gold hit. Scratch away a bit of the poppy veneer and you uncover the rich seam of bitterness and sadness that makes for a truly great record, and this ‘un is a sure fire contender for album of the year. And it has been a strong year thus far. Tony of Nurgle rating of 10/10.

You can get this from Brassneck Records in the UK on a choice of clear or red with black splatter. In the US get it from Rad Girlfriend Records on a choise of white with red splatter, random mix, transparent red, black or CD or cassette.

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