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Haunted Town


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"Soldiers Requiem" by Naked Raygun is secretly one of the most important punk songs of all time. Now, it will never achieve the renown of "Anarchy in the U.K." or "Blitzkrieg Bop," but contained within its measures are punk rock gold. It's an urgent tune backed by some direct insight ("And yet it remains / Until we breathe our last breath / Like tears in rain / There is no shame in your death"). But its biggest accomplishment is in the whoas.

Plenty of bands can claim Naked Raygun as an influence, from post-punkers to hardcore acts. All of them could learn a thing or two or three by studying the whoas. With Jettison, the record containing this very important song, Naked Raygun achieved creative bliss. Here is an album that successfully combines dissonant instrumentation with supremely catchy vocals.

And the hits keep coming from there. "When the Walls Come Down" repeats the whoa trick to great success. "Walk in Cold" shifts vocally to something a little more baritone and post-punk (culminating later in the Big Black-ish "Live Wire"). A cover of Stiff Little Fingers' "Suspect Device" even works its way in among the originals, revealing Naked Raygun as part of a larger argument for tru punx.

Naked Raygun's finest work came at a pivotal point in hardcore's nadir, and Chicago's finest did not disappoint. The band is tightly wound, and whether they're plowing straight ahead or experimenting with groove, Naked Raygun fill the air with grit and texture. Jettison is their masterpiece.

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