Dogwood - Matt Aragon (CD)

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  • New Factory Sealed
  • 2001 Tooth & Nail Records
  • TND 1205

The third album from San Diego's finest melodic punk band continues the group's successful integration of multiple and seemingly mutually exclusive influences: they play emo chord progressions at hardcore punk tempos and scream some of the most explicitly Christian lyrics over them that have ever been heard from a Tooth & Nail band. It's a thrilling ride, from the deceptive acoustic intro on "1983" to the headlong evangelism of "Hope Unseen" at the very end. Singer Joshua Kemble has the puzzling ability to scream at the top of his lungs and communicate insanely catchy melodies at the same time, and the guitar/bass/drums that back him up do the same thing, pummeling and crashing and never losing hold of the hooks. The lyrics are worth noting as well; there's actually some fairly sophisticated Christology going on in "Do or Die," for example. There are nods to influential forebears here and there -- "Juice" has more than a whiff of Hüsker Dü to it -- but for the most part, Dogwood has carved their own niche in the Christian punk field, and they have a lot to be proud of -- or humble about, or whatever.

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