While many acts can feel the pressure of constantly releasing material to keep fans interested, the case of The Linecutters proved to be a fascinating experiment in fandom patience.
The three-member punk unit of young 20-somethings began their career with their debut single “Yolocaust” in 2014, but only released subsequent efforts more than a year apart. Their debut LP, Ant Hill, arrived three years after 2014’s Pirates of Suburbia debut EP, while their most recent single, “Patriot,” dropped from the gods out of nowhere in 2018 and punctuated end-of-year playlists.
This release schedule may not seem out of place at first, but what if we told you The Linecutters are still playing crowded house shows and local venues to fans with the same material they released years ago, but still have old and new fans alike shouting back lyrics in unison? It seems this dedication will finally be rewarded with their new February 2019 release of their well-timed, politically-relevant EP, Knuckledragger, on Slope Records.
The artwork for lead single “Patriot” features a skeletal Uncle Sam collapsed in front of a vulture around scattered dollar bills, setting the tone for what guitarist and vocalist Jett Smith describes as something “angrier, faster, and louder” than previous releases.
“Many of the lyrics express a frustration with the current socio-politico-economic clusterfuck we are currently experiencing in the U.S.,” says Smith, “with the rise of reactionary politics, systematic dehumanization, and scapegoating of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
The popular live staple and newly-recorded track “Motherfuck a Cop” has no issue explaining where members Marceliano Festa, Kaz McClain, and Smith himself stand on the topics of police brutality, and the importance community can have in improving conditions instead of authoritarian rule.
“The fact people continue to cheer on the onset of authoritarianism in the name of security is very troubling and hypocritical to me,” Smith continues.
The title track “Knuckledragger” describes this angst toward those who sit and watch with much more furor than past releases. While Pirates of Suburbia and Ant Hill sometimes combined punk epitaphs with ska and even brief reggae breakdowns, the EP itself cuts through the bullshit and compares the very different world of today with the socially liberal one we left behind. Even a drawn-out, slower track like “Invisible Man” doesn’t stray too far from pure punk, but contains the band’s trademark of smart melodies, consistent musicianship, and a slight tinge of rock sneaking its way into the track.
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While this EP may not contain the same genre-bending qualities as their former compositions, Knuckledragger shows a deeper focus into who The Linecutters truly are as group and the morals that lead their philosophy. Instead of the foolhardy punk brats fresh out of a Gilbert high school, you will find a group of young men who know exactly what they want from their sound and the message they want to deliver.
Most importantly, they still want you to party your ass off.
“There is still plenty of melody,” says Smith, “but we wanted to make something that you can throw down to.”
Knuckledragger will be released February 8 via Slope Records.