Reviews of CDs by Anti-Flag, Radney Foster and Bill Kirchen 

CD Reviews

Anti-Flag, "A New Kind of Army"Radney Foster, "See What You Want to See"Bill Kirchen "Raise a Ruckus"(Click on a CD title or cover to order that CD from Amazon.com)
Play These Songs"Narcolepsy""Don't Change Your Plans""Mess"

Real Audio Required -->Anti-Flag, "A New Kind of Army" (A-F Records) — While I haven't been to a punk show in years, and the last punk LP I bought was probably "Against the Grain" by Bad Religion, a quick listen to Anti-Flag's new release, "A New Kind of Army," took me right back to my angst-ridden, shaved-head, skateboarding, punk-rock younger days.

There are few surprises on this CD, and that's a good thing. "A New Kind of Army" has 15 loud, fast punk songs, each one packed with catchy hooks, buzzing rhythm guitar, unintelligibly shouted lyrics and soaring back-up vocals. Almost every song hits the mark, from the obligatory anti-police brutality "Police Story" to the self-explanatory, obvious, but still fun "Captain Anarchy." In the lyrics and liner notes, the Pittsburgh, Pa., group makes no bones about its openly political stance, but that doesn't get in the way until track 14, the too-preachy, "The Consumer's Song." But by then, you've had so much good, clean punk-rock fun that a bit of preachiness doesn't matter.

If you ever wore a mohawk, or stage-dove before moshing became the stuff of 20/20 segments, you're bound to love this record.

— Mark Stroh

Play These Songs"Tiger In Your Tank""The Wild One""Cry Like A Man"

Real Audio Required -->Radney Foster, "See What You Want to See" (Arista Austin) — Before "See What You Want to See," I had mixed feelings about country singer/songwriter Radney Foster; sometimes he right-on rocked but sometimes he was just too formula cute. But "See" is one of the most consistently honest efforts I've heard in a while. Foster is wrestling with divorce and new love and tangled falsetto heartaches and he examines it all with such grace and determination that it can take your breath away late in the night. The rock production brings out the spirit yet never gets in the way of the heart.

Foster lays all the cards on the table without a trace of self-pity or surrender and though it's clearly been a tough game, it sounds like he's come out with a winning hand. This is one beautiful statement of love and loss that offers a bright light in a hard storm.

— Ames Arnold

Play These Songs"A Place In The Shade""Half The Time""Big Sweet Life"

Real Audio Required -->Bill Kirchen "Raise a Ruckus" (Hightone Records) — Recorded in Texas, "Raise a Ruckus" is a musical menagerie of styles that's a hands-down treat. Kirchen may have made his name with his twangy and ferocious live shows but this recording further proves he's a fine songwriter and stylist with a closet full of musical hats. There's plenty of Telecaster riffing and Kirchen's Too Much Fun bandmates Johnny Castle and Jack O'Dell provide spot-on bass and drums. But from cut to cut this CD is a 14-song surprise. "Flip Flop" pays tribute to some of Kirchen's musical heroes with a greasy, git-a-long groove. R&B horns drive the ballad "My Heart Has a Mind of Its Own," and "Livin' Dangerously" is a Cajun-flavored rocker. Swing fiddles frame a tale of temptation in "Let the Fire Burn Out" and "Interstate" even offers some surfin' rock. "Ruckus" should ease your Kirchen jones until he comes blowing back through town.

— A.A.

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