Get in the van!

AVERSION.COM

There are bands that pay very, very careful attention to the fashions and latest crazes of the music scenes, mainstream or underground, and build their sound in hope of crossing paths with the hip sound of the moment. There are bands that tend to follow their own route, though they're still aware of the workings of more fashion-conscious bands. Then there are bands like Reagan National Crash diet, which are apparently oblivious to anything going on around them. In the case of Administration, obliviousness turns out to be a pretty darned good characteristic to have. While there are legions of bands stuck imitating the hottest trend or, in true other-side-of-the-coin fashion, doing everything possible to distance themselves from the pack, Crash Diet skips along on its merry way, content to indulge its own idiosyncrasies. With a ballsy, guitar-driven sound, Crash Diet has a style that vaguely falls into the punk world, mostly because it's the best-fitting forced metaphor out there. Think of Reagan National Crash Diet as a trash-rock band that's not about to let the serious business of decadence spoil its fun. Because of this, there's a lot of distance between the band and acts like The Supersuckers or The Streetwalkin' Cheetahs, both ideologically and musically. Instead of the balls-through-the-roof nonsense of overblown bar rock, the Diet lets its guitars thrash about with a sense of fun. There's all the boisterous noise and volume of trash punk, but the band isn't going to let tough-guy nonsense spoil its fun, whether its with the bouncy pop that filters through a dark tunnel of distortion ("DNA") or the exuberant shouted male/female vocals ("Highway Thrill Girl"). The act's fun-loving side is always there, though during the half of this record where guitarist/singer Jennifer Charles takes to the mic' it's a lot more apparent. Similarly, the Crash Diet doesn't have to wrap itself up in tales of whiskey, weaponry and women, as its straight-faced humor's all it needs to keep its songs going. Whether it pokes fun at the "pretty fly for a white guy" love of ghetto wheels ("Ghetto Sled") or rages against sleazy, last-call Romeos ("Anamoly"), the Diet's low-key humor sets the band apart from the straight-faced world of junk rock. While Administration is probably a bit too eccentric for everyday listening, except for that rare breed of fan who attacks Jeff Dahl records with the same glee as those of They Might Be Giants, it shakes the frowning blues that frequently come with crackling guitars.

NO FRONT TEETH (UK)

Very distinctive, unadorned punk rock that's totally in a league of its own. RNCD are definitely not followers but originators of this style all their own. They are very minimal both in sound and style—which gets plenty of plus points from me. I love authentic, raw music. No trendy shit here —just passion. I absolutely love the front cover art.

HORIZONTAL ACTION

Hard to Hold. Remember that Rick Springfield movie? The fuckin' Reagan years. I swear I can never get laid when there's a Republican in the White House. Some of these songs are catchy and some are just "hard to hold." The dual male/female vocals on "Highway Thrill Girl" work pretty well, and remain unpredictable and snotty. At times, it's got a good 70s LA punk X/ Avengers groove to it. The guitars are good and crunchy, it's just the male vocals alone give it more of a casual feel, which could be a lot nastier. Check it out.—Rod

ILLINOIS ENTERTAINER

On their latest EP, Administration, Reagan National Crash Diet tries to be as unique with their sound as they are with their name. With an even balance of male and female talent, this foursome varies their sound from the heavy metal stylings of the "Intro" and "Ghetto Sled," to the retro-80s punk sound of a "Highway Thrill Girl." Throw in the humorous storytelling on a song like "Anamoly," and overall you have a pretty fun disc. Both "Highway Thrill Girl" and "Anamoly" feature the powerful punk rock vocals of Jennifer Charles, and leave you wishing she had lead vocals on more of the songs. The weakest song is the repetitive "Ghetto Sled," which makes you anxious to skip to the next track.—CM

WESTWORLD

If there is one complaint to be made about punk, or punk rock, or just plain rock music these days, it would have to be that most bands take themselves too seriously. When one does find an inkling of humor embedded in a punk song, it is of the bitter sort, eliciting a spitting, harsh laughter bereft of any joy. Granted, times are serious, and punk bands are usually commenting on the things that piss them off--not puppies or flowers or what they find amusing. That said, it's a relief to see, and hear, a band like Reagan National Crash Diet. From the opening lines of "Ghetto Sled," on its disc Administration, it becomes immediately apparent that these boys and girls have a sense of humor. Over a fast beat as forceful and sloppy and relentless as the car they describe, singer Chris Auman informs us: "I don't come from the ghetto.../ But I drive around town in my ghetto sled/ And I hate it when the light turns red." And the music is nice and hard too, crunchy and atonal, but catchy in the vein of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion--wild and pounding, and daring the listener to join in near the edge of chaos. RNCD is good at drawing you back from the brink of the abyss with infectious beats and guitar lines written in such a way that they hook the listener with out seeming heavy-handed or jingly. Auman sings with the assurance of the mad. He's a wild troubadour of lunacy, crooning songs of love and steel. Besides his half-shouted, half-moaned lyrics, what stands out are the guitars and the drums. The entire band is a tight package, pounding along through rhythms that are speedy and energetic but not overly thrashy. Reagan National Crash Diet is punk without the doom and "woe is me" sentimental self-pity, deranged pop without the sugar and oversimplified dumbness. A definite keeper.—Kurt Brighton

ROCTOBER

I'm totally for a return of Reagan bands so this act has points even before I press play. However, this doesn't sound like early 80s punk, but that's not necessarily bad. Textural seriousness without math or science or P.E. overpowering the English Lit.

PUNK PLANET

Somewhere between '80s LA punk and straightforward pop-rock is where RNCD lie. It's sort of a strange mix, but oddly enough, it blends quiet well—especially with the male and female vocals on different tracks.—TK

SPANK

Wacked-out feedback, ka-razy rhythms, sonic overdubs and wicked guitar-wrenching. Sounds like the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion snorted a little of the Chrome Cranks, ate Brainiac, suffered a serious head injury, and woke up at Estrus Records, ready to rock and roll.—Michell

THRASH 'TIL DEATH

Real punk rippin' off FLIPPER and the DEAD KENNEDYS with fine result. Lotsa shit from Chicago lately. Good stuff. The name fits cos this has the cool 80's punk sound I grew up with all over it. Not hard or fast but with enough attitude to kick five two man blurgh bands asses. HA! Snotty girl vox on some songs. Dude sings on others. Sometimes both. Quality stuff.

INVISIBLEYOUTH.COM

These punk rockers know how to have a good time. Not taking things too seriously, RNCD blast out 8 stripped down jams. Some of it seems silly, but at the same time it is fun. Pretty crazy is you me! Cheap thrills and stripped down jams.

MAXIMUMROCKNROLL

Silkscreened CD cover, minimal info and text. Noisy, Midwestern fare along the "now-classic" mores of early '90s Sub Pop or Am Rep stuff straddling trad punk rock. Y'know the stuff: mid tempo pace, loud guitars, monotone spoken-vocals. Pretty cool riffs, even an attempt or two at catchy hooks. Its definitely got the Chrome meets Lynyrd Skynyrd aesthetic of the Chicago art-noise scene (actually listen to "Highway Thrill Girl," almost takes me back to "Half Machine Lip Moves"). Does the hick-art damage-brain balance pretty well. Sounds like these guys and gals have big fun. Does have a certain verve and spirit which I like.

HORIZONTAL ACTION

Reagan National Crash Diet bang out a real dinger and throw a hot recording over it all with a thick layer of scuzz for a really impressive track. Tight, rough, and those infectious male/female vocals hook me every time. I'm really let down that there's only one song! Decibators are a little more on the Misteaters tip, and have a solid rocknroll mash to 'em. Throaty, balls-out and threatening. (Dick)

PUNK PLANET

Two Chicago Bands, one down-and-dirty rock 'n' roll taste. Reagan National Crash Diet plays the kind of music I'd listen to while chugging Pabst (if I drank beer). As for the Decibators, they're raw and strong straightforward rock. Neither is pretty or groundbreaking, but it's a fun listen. —AT

RAZORCAKE

Decibators (spelled "deciBators" on the label: a hint) rock straight up, in the American style of many Scandinavian bands of today; easy enough. RNCD (spelled "RNCD" on the label: an acronym), however, present significant problems for the seasoned pigeonholer (at least one who tries to avoid using the word "quirky"): they've got a sort of post-hardcore (circa '85) sound with repetitive dual-gender vocals, repetitive bass line, guitar that goes for the head rather than the gut and slightly offbeat drums. I can't think of anyone to compare them to: I've forgotten every record like this a week after I ceased to own it. Which is to say, it's pretty good on some level.

—Aaron J. Poehler

INK 19

I really like the name Reagan National Crash Diet, but my preconception based on their name was wrong: I figured that they would be brat-gutter punk or something. Instead, I was happy to hear that their song, "White Man," is actually a very urgent, fierce, and brutal Fugazi meets Braid kind of aggro-emo thing. It's sort of like a slower version of Universal Order of Armageddon. They even have one guy that sounds like Ian and one that sounds like Guy; one of them's a girl though, so go figure...

INVISIBLE YOUTH

Each band brings one jam and both jams are raw and stripped down to the bare minimum. Reagan National Crash Diet brings a stripped down pop punk rocker that contains more rock than pop Decibators rock one loud and really straight up rock song similar to something AC/DC would do if they were born in this era just some loud music to slam your head against the wall to.

SHREDDING PAPER

Decibators live up to the billing as a blast of r-n-r dynamite. "Burning Under The Sun" is full-on jackhammer rock of rugged high quality. Think Supersuckers times ten. RNCD's is sparse punk rock with a nasty political edge. —Anthony

MAXIMUMROCKNROLL

The REAGAN NATIONAL CRASH DIET (RNCD) side of this record is good. I love to hear more from these folks. They seem to be on the same wavelength of Chicago punk that I've always considered to be a near cousin of the DC Dischord, more arty punk. Chicago's had a few bands that fit that bill: TRENCHMOUTH, SCISOR GIRLS, and 8-BARK, to name a few. Anyway, RNCD's got female vocals and distorted bass accompanied by twangy guitars that kick in and rock at just the right time. RNCD sounds a lot like SLANT 6, the DISHES, and MINUTEMEN, if they were all scrambled up in a pan. On the flip side you've got the DECIBATORS playing some in-your-face moustache rock that doesn't really fit in the genre of the A-side. The insert says reviewers often compare them to Norway's GLUECIFER... well to tell you the truth, I think those reviewers are right on the money. This band sounds like a lot less polished GLUECIFER (then again, this is only one song). Conclusion: half good, half ...like GLUECIFER. —AS

 

PUNK PLANET

The much needed CD reissue of the already classic double 7" inch from this wacky, sloppy Chicago-area band with dual male/female vocals. It sounds like what a Plan-It X band doing garage rock would sound like: totally wild. Includes three bonus tracks, two of which were recorded at the Fireside Bowl.—Art Ettinger

AVERSION.COM

It seems everybody these days needs a hustle of some sort or another. The garage bands have their 15 mintues' fame. New York acts are busy riding The Strokes' coattails. Even Blink 182's turned in its juvenility for a new slant, the matured-band gimmick. What the hell happened to the music? Reagan National Crash Diet are so far removed from the sort of band who lives and dies by manipulating its audience's cruddy attention span that the poorly recorded angle on Suktastic! doesn't really count as an attention-getting ploy. In fact, the quickly recorded studio tracks and live cuts on this record play into the scattered urgency of RNCD: With dueling male/female vocals at its helm and guitars that crash wildly against one another, the band has the mentality, if not the gritty riffs and explosive rhythms of the legendary Los Angeles punk band. In reality, the allusions to X only tell half the tale of the Chicago band's sound. While the songs, mostly culled from the band's 7-inch EP of the same name, screech through punk territory, they stick as close to the sounds of Richard Hell and the Voidoids or a slightly peeved Television as anything borne in the City of Angels. "Hitlicker" takes a buzzing jangle through riffs that are more primal and directly linked to rock'n'roll than three-chord punk and throws them under a pair of vocal tracks that let singer/guitarist Jen Charles and Chris Auman deliver harmonies and backups worthy of John and Exene comparisons. "Pretender" doesn't carom into punk's no-future wasteland as much as it precariously peers into the no mans' land, while live versions of "Anomaly" and "DNA" plunge headlong into punk's well crafted chaos. RCND plays punk for the record collectors and anyone who's grown out of their Epitaph-inspired angst. While it's not as ostentatious as most of its flash-and-burn Californian counterparts, Reagan National Crash Diet makes up in intelligence what it lacks in immediacy.—R. Paul Matthews

CHICAGO READER

Self-awareness isn't a prerequisite for great rock 'n' roll: The Beatles thought they were an R & B band. Led Zeppelin thought they were an unusually loud blues band. No one's sure what Black Sabbath thought they were, but they were probably wrong too. Listening to Sucktastic! (the new CD version of an earlier five-song release, plus extra tracks) by locals Reagan National Crash Diet—who of course aren't on a level with the groups above—I sometimes get the impression they think they're a pop-punk band. But at key moments they achieve a hairy, distorted chaos that's far more exciting than the prefab stuff they seemingly aspire to.—Monica Kendrick

INK 19

I must admit that I was taken aback by the four songs on this 7", as they do not sound like the Reagan Nation Crash Diet (RNCD) I had experienced before. To be honest, though, I had heard only one song of theirs on a split 7" that I got a few months back. The RNCD I find here is basing its roots in rock & roll, and adding a butt load of sassiness and spunk, resulting in some pretty snotty and aggressive songs. "F.U." is a sad little rocker that sounds like it came straight from the 1950s, but first stopped to pick up a young Kim Gordon for vocal duties. The chorus features an interesting set of backing singers that sound almost like a crew of dogs barking. "Pretender" finds the band rockin' out in a very garage rock manner, pounding out some toe tappin', booty shakin', hand clappin' tunes fit for consumption by just about anyone. I especially like the "oooh oooh" at the end of the song. In all seriousness, this one is a forward-facing rocker, similar to slowed down Chrome Cranks and Jon Spencer Blue Explosion. "16" is a garage rock masterpiece (complete with extra "eeee's" at the end of "you're sixteen") with raunchy guitars playing a simple riff that rocks along on its own strength. The drums are tribal and large, playing a voracious 1,2 beat, thus supplying an ample backbone for this song -- surely an excuse for the band to cut loose and pound on their instruments. This is a fun double 7", but it's not what I expected. I thought these guys play angular math rock stuff, and there's none of that here. It doesn't really matter, as the songs here are pretty solid. The ability to rock in varying sub-genres of punk is a testament to the quality of a rock band like RNCD. Awesome!—Daniel Mitchell