Friday, October 31, 2014

Citizens Arrest

There's a lot that has been made about the musical merit in hardcore punk. Most of this commentary has come from uninitiated parties who hold musicianship on a pedestal and whose connection to music is limited to a place between listening to a Zeppelin record in mono & taking in a performance of a band of geriatric granddad rockers or worse yet, a tribute band. The reality about hardcore punk is that it is a gateway genre for a lot of people. People from this genre go on to bigger and better things. The Beastie Boys went from new jacks who could barely play their instruments to one of the biggest hip-hop acts in the world. Moby went from the Vatican Commandos to becoming a global techno act. Pete Wentz & Andy Hurley were hardline in Vegan Reich before they were in Fall Out Boy. Eric Wareheim briefly featured for Ink & Dagger before becoming a comedy brand name. These are just a few examples. Hardcore punk is the beginning of something. Kids who come from hardcore move on to bigger things, musically or not. This is thanks in part to the genre's DIY ethic, strong sense of community, and grassroots foundation.

Citizens Arrest is a textbook case of kids with potential playing in a hardcore band. The band was always destined for something bigger than just being a hardcore band. Vocalist Daryl Kahan, since Citizens Arrest, has made a name for himself in the world of metal with projects like Assuck, Funebrarum, and most recently Disma. His vocals in Citizens Arrest made it obvious that he would end up in the metal world. He had depth, range, and tone that went beyond hardcore. For all that has been said Sheer Terror & their blending of metal and hardcore, so much more has been left undiscussed about what Citizens Arrest was doing. Citizens Arrest were doing the same thing, only they did it better. Along with Kahan, Citizens Arrest also featured drummer Patrick Winter & future indie darling Ted Leo. Winter's CV is impressive as he featured for Our Gang, True Colors (with Kahan), and Taste of Fear (with Kahan). Ted Leo went on to make a name for himself in the indie rock world, most notably with Ted Leo & The Pharmacists.

Citizens Arrest lasted for only a couple of years (89-91). This is likely due in part to a couple of reasons. First, the band did a lot in a very short time. In only a couple of years they recorded a demo, an incredible EP in A Light In The Darkness (my personal favorite NYHC 7"), and an LP in Colossus. This, while also featuring on a variety of comps. Citizens Arrest's prolific output was merely a reflection of their ambition. Which segues to the second reason: Citizens Arrest were way too talented to continue on. On their records, above all else, you could hear Citizens Arrest's ambition to do more. Be it through Kahan's vocal stylings or Leo's guitar parts, the band was figuring stuff out very fast and it was a foregone conclusion that they were not long for the genre.

Some people say "hardcore is a musician's copout". I have always hated this expression. Hardcore isn't about musicianship. It never has been. It never will be. Hardcore is a genre where kids come to sort themselves out musically and personally. Hardcore kids always go on to other genres. They form metal bands, indie projects, industrial bands, become DJs, or start rapping. People come to this genre to figure themselves out, they stay & come back to never forget where they came from.

Something uninitiated people will never understand about hardcore is that it is more than music. When you listen to Citizens Arrest, you're hearing someone like a Daryl Kahan or a Ted Leo finding themselves. There's a special kind of curiosity and ambition to hardcore that something like contemporary classic rock (I don't think this is a real term, but whatever dorks in 2014 who want to sound like the Rolling Stones classify themselves as) will never understand.

Included is Citizens Arrest's 89 Demo, A Light In The Darkness, and Colossus

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