The Strumms – Album of Un-American Activities

The Strumms Album Art

With the political divide in our country seemingly splitting farther and farther apart, The Strumms are calling it like it is, no holds barred, on their new album “Album of Un-American Activities.”

They cover issues like gun violence and greed of the 1% with the subtlety of a brick crashing through a window. Tracks like “Guns and Knives” and “Michael Brown” describe the loss of life that have become all too familiar.  Both tracks are a jarring departure from a majority of the album, too, with soft spoken vocals pleading with the listener that we don’t need anymore dead. “Michael Brown,” named after the infamous incident involving a black teenager being shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo. The Strumms trade in hard hitting guitars and crashing cymbals for calming guitars and drums so quiet, you can hear the snare’s feedback in the background. “Guns and Knives” becomes even more poignant given the recent events of the Orlando nightclub Pulse, as well as the murder of former “The Voice” contestant Christina Grimmie.

But the entire album is not dour by any means. A majority of the songs deal with other topics like capitalism and evaluating one’s self worth.

The chorus on “The Great Spectacle” repeats “You are not! You are not! You are not! A commodity! You are more! You are more! You are more! Than a body!” You’ll have a hard time not clenching your fists with excited rage and flailing your arms wildly while listening to this track.

Dalton Winfree’s voice has a somewhat 80s pop effect on it, and when he’s screeching and wailing it makes everything a little more shrill, but also gnashingly delightful. Especially on the previously mentioned tracks where Winfree sounds like Joan Hart with a sore throat. If you didn’t get The Strumms’ point off of just energy alone, Winfree’s vocal delivery will send it home and then some.

“The Problem of Being Fortunate” is a blend of heavy bass lines and boom-bap drum beats that are reminiscent of ska, and less punk. The song goes on about how America is the land of opportunity and you absolutely will not be judged for being a non-white citizen or any sort of immigrant.

The Strumms cover a lot of heavy subjects on this album, and given recent events both politically and in Florida, it can make some of the tracks tough to listen to. But for those who give the album a listen it can be incredibly eye opening. One minute you’ll be bouncing off the walls in your room, knockin’ off your mom’s favorite cross stitching, then the next you’ll be sitting on the edge of your bed nodding along, deep in thought. It’s not often you get a punk album that so effectively blends quick action and heavy thoughts without seeming stilted in places, but the Strumms have done it on “Album of Un-American Activities.” No matter where your opinions or political allegiances lie, this album is most-necessary listening for a 2016 America.

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