Monday, July 4, 2011

Tragedy-Can We Call This Life? 7" EP (2001

I think it's Independence Day back home by now. The last time I was Stateside for the 4th, I got falling-down drunk and saw Tragedy for the first and only time, at a scuzzy, horribly over-crowded house show in Portland. Easily the best punk show I've been to in the past five years. So it's only right that I celebrate by posting this gem.
  Greil Marcus once said of The Clash's "Complete Control" that, after listening to it, you couldn't understand how anything could be the same in its wake. Well, I'd say the same about Tragedy's first three releases, but especially this one. The three songs here are a cumulative, crushing release of all the brooding, anguished violence that the first LP accumulated. This is the tipping point at which despair becomes all-annihilating action, and the agonized, dissonant torpor of the first album shifts onto the road leading to the remarkably melodic second LP, "Vengeance."
   Tragedy never sounded tighter, Todd and Paul never angrier or clearer on what is at stake, than here. The first two songs slowly build into the coruscating majesty of "The Ending Fight," with its truly ominous (the most over-used adjective in punk music writing of the '00s) drum-guitar build up to the transcendent catharsis of the bridge and finale.
   If I haven't scared you away with all those superlatives and polysyllabic adjectives, this EP is essential listening for anyone as disgusted as you should be, living in the USA in 2011, with the impoverished fight for survival we're forced to engage in every day. Ten years later, these songs haven't aged a day, and it's depressing that so few of us have heeded Tragedy's clarion call and, as Kevin Seconds put it thirty years ago, "Fuck your America, fight!"

When the beating of hearts has ceased. This went out of print almost immediately after hitting shelves. The three LPs are still in print, however-try Ebullition if you're a weirdo and don't already own at least one Tragedy record. 

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