When one thinks of the heyday of old school Canadian punk rock, the Subhumans and D.O.A make Vancouver the first city that comes to most stateside mouths and minds; but if you were to look a little farther East, Alberta is another bastion that more than deserves its notoriety. SNFU got things under way in the Stampede City in the ‘80s, passing the torch to The Smalls and Jonestown Punch to put the town on the map in the early ‘90s. Both bands garnered a rabid local following and laid significant bedrock for a pretty ace little Ramones-influenced punk band called Chixdiggit that hit the sort-of big time by signing to Sub Pop for their debut full-length in 1996.
Those in the know are aware that Chixdiggit started as a money-making t-shirt enterprise involving a fake band well before singer/guitarist K.J. Jansen and his merry men adopted the mantle for an actual punk rock franchise in the early ‘90s. Steeped in the four on the floor poppy punk rock in the vein of The Ramones and Screeching Weasel, Chixdiggit has adhered to the formula for a creeping 20 years now, garnering fans worldwide over the course of five full-lengths and a handful of 7-inch and EP releases. The vibe is much more Vans than leather motorcycle jacket, but rest assured there are hooks galore.
2011 found Chixdiggit back on the scene after a six year hiatus, releasing a fantastic EP on Fat Wreck called Safeways, Here We Come. Rumors of a new release abound, but in the interim we have Double Diggits, a two-fer release that combines the second Chixdiggit record, Born On The First Of July, with the third, From Scene To Shining Scene, with some demo and early 7-inch stuff for good measure.
Chixdiggit is no stranger to revisiting its back catalog, having re-recorded its eponymous debut in its entirety in 2007 as II. While the return may have been a shrewd tactical move to control the band’s early material, its short tenure in my earhole proved utterly soul-sapping to this embittered old Chixdiggit fan, ultimately providing personal proof that you can’t go home again. Blessedly, the last couple of tours stateside have been successes (often featuring Kepi Ghoulie in the bass slot) and introduced Chixdiggit’s music to a new generation. New school bands like Teenage Bottlerocket and Masked Intruder are enthusiastically vocal fans, as is Fat Mike, who initially released the two full-lengths on Fat subsidiary Honest Don’s and spearheaded this re-release.
Those who loved the records the first time will no doubt be falling in love all over again. The songs have aged pretty damn well and you can do a whole lot worse for an opening track than “Gettin’ Air”. The song’s shout-along chorus establishes the fact that there are a lot of big hooks to be had for the duration, even if most of the songs barely make it to the 2:30 mark. Not that the songs don’t have it in them. When they do stretch out, like on Born‘s “Brunette Summer”, you will rarely hear a better punk rock love song. From Scene To Shining Scene‘s closing track “Born In Toulouse” comes close, as does “Going To The Peelers”, but there is very little bad to be said about any of the tracks here.
Beyond the aforementioned full-lengths, Double Diggits adds single versions of “20 Times” and “Chupacabras” to a demo of “My Girl’s Retro” and some pre-Sub Pop tracks. The tracks from the earliest Chixdiggit days age most poorly, with Best Hung Carrot track “I’m Not Going To Suck Your Church Off” being the most egregious offender. Youthful vagaries aside, the 30-plus tracks from these 40-something pop punkers are a strong contender for the best 70 minutes of pop-punk nostalgia you’ll get this year.
// Notes from the Road
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