Ladies and gentlemen, the future of punk rock may well reside in Halifax, Nova Scotia. With Action in the North Atlantic, A History Of has produces the most exciting and unique record in the genre since the Blood Brothers burned Piano Island. It’s a great punk rock record because, well, it’s not all that interested in sounding punk. Guitar comes in awkward jagged chunks or formless, thick banks of fog. Drums drive the songs along and then clatter them into chaos, while the bass thumps across that jagged landscape. These guys will hit you with the confrontational blast of “Strike it From the Lexicon” or stretch out into the stringy experimentation of “Munitions Ships”. Standout “Dagger Woods” starts with a twanging riff that sends the track into a churning frenzy, while closer “Position Flying & Dead Reckoning” takes the band in every direction in six minutes.
From funk to noise experiments to breakneck punk to a brooding denouement, the band hits you with one surprise after another without every losing stride. On Action in the North Atlantic, you could draw lines to Jawbox or Sonic Youth or even to a more serious Les Savy Fav, but none of these quite fit because the band makes its own sound. It’s heartfelt; it earns every moment; and it hits you hard from start to finish. A few years back, indie rock mined Montreal for fresh blood. Maybe the punks should head up to Nova Scotia and see what else there is to find.