Old Lines – No Child Left Behind

After all that Thanksgiving indulging where we questioned the existence of such a cool-to-hate-on holiday (for a number of a reasons), we were in the mood for a full-course serving of several overly-filling genres at once.  Like a turkey that’s been brined for a week in cigarette butts and street water, we were looking for something hard to swallow, possibly negative for one’s cultural awareness, and which would likely lead to serious health issues later in life to which we’ll likely say “God, what was I thinking?”  So, if last week you were one of those seeking to guzzle more food than necessary while the world suffers and you’re totally oblivious to it, how about some music that takes themes of social/political unrest and throws them in your face like too much stuffing?  And what better place for finishing a meal and then disgorging it in protest than Baltimore, home of some of the best filth in the music world?  There’s no better time than now to purge ourselves of capitalist imperialism worship with Old Lines, a d-beat, hardcore punk, post-hardcore conglomerate of street from the very city we have just been expounding as one of the greatest filthiest places on earth.  Barclay House?  Been there.  Take that house and the entire atmosphere and make a band out of it, and here it is, on vinyl even.  No Child Left Behind is somewhat lacking in its presentation, but more than makes up for it with an updated stitching-together of several styles like a patchwork jacket you found during a dumpster dive.


No Child Left Behind kind of depressed us, at first.  It has that typical street punk style to its design, the imagery a collection of faux-Xeroxed news snippets of what you expect; references to capitalism, war, Bush, religion, television, etc. blah etc.  Take out the brutal reality of crust, and there you go, it doesn’t have that same attack factor going on, like that guy who goes to the mall handing out pro-vegan anti-factory farming pamphlets and shoves them in your purse.  Strangely they have a bunch of Arabic on the back of the sleeve that was kind of confusing, mainly because we couldn’t read it so if there’s a statement to be made in the actual language, consider that a failure.  However, we’re assuming it’s an interesting writing-as-art counterpoint to the images on the front, and that makes us look less stupid if our guess is true, so we’ll stick with that.  The vinyl itself is a sick black/industrial green mixture that looks hella good when it spins, like a puddle of sludge and motor oil on the highway at night, and when it starts to turn the real grime begins.


No Child Left Behind comes out immediately harder than you expect, the art is thus deceptive.  This isn’t that typical two-step street punk with 4/4 progressions and that yaaaawn ‘oi me lads’ mentality that makes a ton of sense when it’s coming out of the mouth of a 14-year-old rolling in his parent’s finished basement in a Power Wheels corvette (sarcasm).  Old Lines is bored to tears with that kind of punk, in fact the opener, “To Ashes”, is a great beginning to what is usually an end, breaking your preconceptions of their image down and then building back up from the filth of your pyre into a new being.  There’s a utilization of tempo shifts, mixtures of feedback noise, and breakdowns without slipping on the dirty streets they stylistically tread.  Old Lines are used to their streets, they come in pounding with fervent and consistent energy.  Usually when we’re looking for something in the form of hardcore it tends to only wake us from our eternal, autocrat slumber if it’s of the ‘post’ type, but here you’re given a hefty dose of classic, but updated.  No Child Left Behind ends before you’re even aware it began because of the sheer amount of variety and catch in Old Lines’ short song structures.  More noteworthy than this is that their ideology doesn’t come off as pontifical, it’s rather genuine, which is largely due to the vocalist sounding like he’s actually had life experiences; that special kind of density in tone that most bands of this type rarely excel in because of redundant delivery.  Call it gumption, call it a man scorned, call it cigarettes, whatever it is he’s holding the front of Old Lines with ease, and that’s critical if one seeks to expound anti-politics to these overindulged ears.  Like the feast you likely had this past week, swallow this one down until you’re ready to burst and find a new way of life, swearing off compliant for the rest of your days.


Old Lines Official Facebook

Written by Stanley Stepanic

Old Lines – No Child Left Behind
No Sleep Records
4.5 / 5