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Volume 69, Issue 106, Monday, March 9, 2004

Arts & Entertainment

Red Tape puts out true mainstream punk rock

By Ian McDonald
The Daily Cougar

Roadrunner Records has earned a well-deserved reputation of supporting edgy bands of varying sounds. In that respect, Red Tape is nothing out of the ordinary. Yet there's something undeniably quaint and unique about a semi-mainstream band that still designs and distributes its own fliers and merchandise.

The thrash-punk band practices a do-it-yourself philosophy that's rare if not totally unseen in today's mainstream scene. Red Tape's debut, Radioactivist, utilizes 1980s punk rock ideals and approaches them with a hardcore contemporary style and real-life emotions. The sound can sometimes be comparable to that of Sum 41's -- minus the teen angst and drunk on adrenaline attitude.

Much of Radioactivist's content, at least lyrically, is probably because of the lead guitarist/vocalist's (Jeff Jaworski) thoughts and experiences while serving in the army for two years.

If he hadn't enlisted, there probably wouldn't be such high-energy songs like "Social Meltdown" or the debut's signature title track. While listening to the lyrics of a characteristic punk-anthem like "Strike Tonight" or "Droppin' Bombs on Your Moms," there can be no mistake that Red Tape is an example of true punk music.

Everyone has at some point purchased a CD and been subjected to hidden or "illegitimate" tracks that usually grant you everything except music. Occasionally these extras can be funny, entertaining or effectively add to the overall theme of the album. However, a lot of the time these tracks are retained as simply annoying to sit through and a waste of time. Regrettably, Radioactivist falls into the latter.

The band may have been attempting to produce something appropriate for its retro war propaganda theme to introduce the album. But all that can be heard for the first 38 seconds of is indistinguishable static and eerie noises. This in itself doesn't reduce the quality of the production significantly. But with each song averaging less than two minutes in length and a 37-minute running time for the album, there is slim flexibility for wasted tracks.

Many excited artists of the rock variety had a hand in the creation of Radioactivist, including an System of a Down's Amir Derakh. The album's definitely worth a listen if you're a fan of the genre.

Red Tape


Roadrunner Records

The verdict: It's short but sweet. This one is definitely an adrenaline pusher, but probably not great for everyday listening.

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