Maybe the best way to describe Gag’s new release, America’s Greatest Hits, is to say that it’s the best sonic representation of what it feels like to be punched in the teeth that I’ve heard in a bit.
Emerging from Olympia Washington’s highly touted hardcore scene, Gag have recently joined Iron Lung records and have been touring almost non-stop. With the release of “America’s Greatest Hits”, their first full-length, people are quickly taking notice of them.
Musically, the album has everything that one would expect from a great hardcore record. As the album starts, screeching guitar feedback stands as a warning of the violence that is about to come from your speakers. As the guitar starts into the first track, “Pilot/Havana Spliff”, the listener is given the feeling of a white-knuckle ride on a roller coaster out of control.
The drums sound terrific, with that sound of a kit played viciously hard in a garage or large room. While the guitars have the stripped-down sound of an overdriven stack amp right next to your skull, the distorted bass gives the sound a round bottom end that still has a harsh percussiveness, especially in heavy breakdowns like at the end of “Wal-Mart Reality”. Meanwhile, the reverbed-out vocals sound like their being yelled at a distance through a megaphone.
“Pretty Boy” is the song on the album that sounds most like a single, but still totally feels like a mosh pit. The album is nearly relentless in its energy right up to when the final track, “Horse Tickler”, fades into the sound of a screaming saxophone.
It’s amazing how much music and attitude Gag have squeezed into less than 20 minutes of tape. At times, technical musicianship, and at others, visceral savagery; “America’s Greatest Hits” sounds like something your mom would tell you to turn down as a teenager. Isn’t that the goal of hardcore?