Lagwagon - Let's Talk About Leftovers
Record Label: Fat Wreck Chords
Release Date: February 8, 2000
When a band releases a compilation of rarities, b-sides and unreleased material, it is often incredibly hit or miss, with several quality cuts hidden amongst a mess of rather unmemorable or unimpressive tracks. Thankfully that is not the case with time-honored melodic punk mainstays Lagwagon's Let's Talk About Leftovers. This is due in part to the fact that the first eight songs on the compilation were at the time previously unreleased, and contain some of their best tunes. The first track, "A Feedbag Of Truck Stop Poetry," is classic Lagwagon, short, sweet and immediately catchy. Showcasing frontman Joey Cape's trademark vocals and above-average lyrical abilities with poignant lines like "I pulled over for nostalgia / I thought of suffering the joke / No one delivered the punchline / No resolution this year," it demonstrates why Lagwagon are one of the premier acts in the world of pop-punk.
"Burn That Bridge When We Get To It" is yet another slice of Lagwagon at their best, showing off drummer Dave Raun's manic-fire to mid-tempo precision, bassist Jesse Buglione's ability to perform outside of just basic root notes, and guitarists Chris Flippin and Chris Rest's driving power chord/octave chord interplay, and a flashy albeit brief solo. Also worthy of mention are the three cover tracks: Drag The River's "Losing Everyone," Jawbreaker's "Want" and Echo & The Bunnymen's "Bring On The Dancing Horses" get the melodic punk treatment, each one sounding as if they could've been written by Joey and the boys themselves.
Also intact is the band's ever-present sense of humor, in the form the 30-second "Randal Gets Drunk," and a hilarious send-up of The Scorpions' classic "No One Like You," which finds Cape ad-libbing his own lyrics in a hushed baritone, speaking such over-the-top lines as "I've been watching you since you were four / I'll take all my sorrow away /...Killer pussy!" It's interesting to hear such moments juxtaposed against their more serious songs, such as the Double Plaidinum outtake/Armchair Martian cover "Brodeo" or "Over The Hill," a leftover from the Hoss sessions. Listening to these, one may begin to wonder why the band ever left them off their respective albums in the first place.
And while the majority of the songs here are keepers, there are some decidedly weak moments, specifically towards the end. Let's Talk About Leftovers spans the band's entire career, and hence some outtakes from their punk-metal beginnings are included; it almost sounds like an entirely different band. "Demented Rumors" is perhaps the only listenable cut from this era, as "Truth And Justice," "No Conviction" and "Jaded Ways" are all very messy, unfocused blasts of speed-metal, a far cry from what the band would later evolve into, even though they would retain a certain element of heavy metal (see: "Baggage" off of 2003's Blaze) However, it does provide an interesting look at the band's early days, and helps one to appreciate how much the band has evolved over the years.
Though it might not be the best place to start if you're looking to get into the band or explore their catalog, it's a must for fans, and is an interesting and appreciated snapshot of where Lagwagon has been, what they are, and where they are going.