I have to admit, it is rather refreshing to hear Madcap's sophomore album East to West because my faith in "punk" music was starting to wane based on what falls into that category nowadays. East to West is a high quality punk album in the tradition of old school Rancid, and the Dropkick Murphy's. Madcap's going to kick you in the teeth, and then pick you up, and throw the mic in your face to sing the chorus, and that's just on the album.
The lyrics on this album are solid as well as the music; it's your basic straightforward punk, that's always around, but always a little too underground to be appreciated. Madcap is trying to bring it to the mainstream here with catchy lyrics, but keeping with punk quasi-cynicism. On the opening of "These Old Feelings", for example, "These old feeling make you think/ These old feelings make you drink/ These old feelings keep the time ticking away" give you an idea of a bleak existence, but that sad outlook on life is overlooked when the chorus of "Turn to me now/We'll make it somehow/ Times are tough/ and I wont let you down." I mean sure it's a happy message, but what ever happen to "No future", ah well, blame it on our "post 9/11" society. Nothing wrong with keeping things positive though, it keeps the shows happy.
One of the other highlights that I have found on this album is the group background vocals. I don't mean by the group, I mean group; seven people not in the band, singing behind leads Alfredo and Johnny, giving the album more of a sing-song quality, which I think added to the enjoyment of the album. By far the best example of this can be found on the East to West's opening track, "Bright Lights, Big City" where the entire chorus of the song has backing vocals and sounds like your are right in the middle of the pit, and the crowd is singing with the band.
East to West does have a few problems, but they are all in my head, where I am in a punk rock band. Here's my biggest gripe with this album, and the band pretty much, this album would be enhanced if it were a live album, which leads me to believe this band is outstanding live. The vocals seem like they are not supposed to be put on an album, but played in a club where the entire crowd can sing along. The only problem with that idea is, without an album, the band either needs to tour for three years or hand out lyric sheets at the door in order for the audience to sing along. So, the album is basically needed, but still, if Madcap ever wanted to record these songs live, not only would I buy the album, but also I'd want to be at that show.
My other big gripe is again something that can't really be avoided. Yes, East to West is a good punk album, but you can still hear a little bit of an influence of some of the bands that have gotten big in the last few years that sort of fall into the punk category. Bands like New Found Glory, Sum 41, and Good Charlotte rear their commercial heads, but only in a small miniscule way. However, touring with these bands, and playing Warped Tour doesn't help, because these are the bands that the kids flock to, or at least their chained wallets do. The influence here, with Madcap is one where the band is trying to get that audience, but keep their credibility, which is respectable, and believe me I'd rather see bands like Madcap making money over someone like Good Charlotte.
Does this mean quality punk is making a comeback? Probably not, but there's nothing wrong with having a little hope, or listening to East to West, check it out of you miss good punk music.
Jason Cipriano is an Assistant Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.