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Initially, I approached Greenville’s DIY punk band Rubrics with a bit of skepticism. Growing up with punk rock, whenever a socio-politically themed punk band labels themselves as “radical,”my knee-jerk reaction defaulted to a cringe. There’s only so much poorly thought out pseudo-Marxist or lazily anarchic preaching I can take. Sure, there are some genuine people out there with some really thought provoking ideas, but most of them are just screaming regurgitated rhetoric in a sad game of telephone, further distorting whatever the original message was. Upon finishing Rubrics’ Stay Crucial, I felt a bit of overwhelming sadness. Because yes, a good deal of the content can be considered radical. Boil down the central themes outside of their specific subjects or politiccs, and Rubrics general messages are pretty simple: “Respect your fellow humans” and “don’t be an asshole.” The songs are a bit more complicated than that, but all of the lyrics could be tied into these central ideas. And what’s tragic to me is that in this day and age, those are still radical beliefs. Because they shouldn’t be. And the band doesn’t believe they should either, as their lyrics will boldly tell you.
Rubrics take influences from punk acts such as Fifteen, Propagandhi, and Dystopia, as they claim on their press, but I also hear a good bit of Lookout-era East Bay punk sneaking in every now and then, and a strong Germs influence as well. Now, this is not your older brother’s “punk rock” or what the Van’s Warped Tour is trying to pass for it these days. It’s fast, it’s dirty, and it’s very raw. While not in style, but certainly in execution, it reminds of a little of old Anti-Flag, who didn’t dress their points up in metaphors, but slapped you in the face with exactly what they were talking about. However, very much unlike Anti-Flag, every song doesn’t sound the same.
Additionally, unlike what a lot of punk records have, there’s some really great technical guitar work done. “Dreams For An Industrial Collapse” contains familiar blistering guitar chords, but they also break down into progressions not wholly typical of the genre. Mixing up the vocal styles created a nice variety and give a nice element of unpredictability to the record.
But that’s what I’ve always loved about punk rock, it’s familiar and alien at the same time. Always. What Rubrics have created herewith Stay Crucial is a very socially-politically-environmentally conscious collection of angry, tired, and sad songs about what’s going on around us. For those who may not be a fan of such an abrasive sound, I’d at least recommend looking at their lyrics to see what they’re talking about. I took a great deal of joy hearing such a passionate punk record again that I felt genuinely had a purpose with what it was saying in its politics, and while the romantic in me may prefer lyrics a tad more dressed up, I can’t help but respect Rubrics’ directness. Punk fans won’t want to miss out on this record, which you can stream below, and purchase for only $1!!
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