As the first band to sign to Fat Wreck Chords and the label’s flagship since its inception, Lagwagon
helped define the musical focus of the label and the punk genre. With 8 full-length albums, a live record,
a b-sides album, an EP, and too many singles to count; Lagwagon’s ability to consistently deliver the familiar
sound they’ve defined, while conveying something entirely novel with each album is unparalleled.
Unlike the last few Lagwagon albums, Railer was written in an incredibly condensed period of time, in an
attempt to capture the spirit of the band’s early days. Songs like “Stealing Light,” “Dangerous Animal”
and “Dark Matter” bristle with a raw, ragged and pure energy that harken back to the band’s early days –
unique for any band to have after almost 30 years of existence.
At the same time, Railer accurately and
honestly reflects who Lagwagon is in 2019, both lyrically and musically. “The Suffering,” inspired by the
writings of Bertrand Russell, begins with a graceful yet ominous piano passage before transforming into
a dark and surging song about the nature of human existence, while also offering a glimpse into the mindset
of Joey Cape at this point in his life. That dichotomy exists on all of Railer’s 12 songs – youthful but
jaded, frantic but exhausted, visceral yet cerebral. “Surviving California” was inspired by the city where
Joey now lives and serves as both a personal and political treatise on the socio-economic state of America
today. This idea of struggle – alongside an overwhelming sense of existential chaos and angst – is a
common thread throughout Railer. In the bouncy desperation of “Jini”, the aforementioned “The Suffering”,
the breakneck despair of “Parable” and even in the carefree nostalgia of “Bubble” and its unflinching
celebration of the band’s early days of ‘beer for pay’ and the ‘roach-ridden pads’ they used to crash at.
Life has moved on in the three decades since Lagwagon started, but it’s not something the band has entirely