“Very Proud of Ya” (Nitro, 1996)
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I wonder how many new #AFI fans in the wake of “Sing the Sorrow” and “Decemberunderground” worked their way back and were utterly confused by this one. Back in its time - a bygone time when you would get made fun of in school for wearing their shirts - AFI were just one of many ‘90s #punk bands kicking around the underground (I discovered them by seeing the video for “He Who Laughs Last,” with its hilarious and surprising #straightedge -goes-gangster theme, on a VHS my friend had), and the youthful irreverence they had at this stage, the kind that made them fit with #NitroRecords , is now entirely out of keeping with their fundamental identity (it’s hard to reconcile this even with “Black Sails in the Sunset,” what to speak of what came after!). Ironic, considering it’s how I got to know them. But though this is a pretty great example of fast-n-fun melodic #hardcorepunk , I was indeed more impressed with the shocking turn they took after this, in which they unexpectedly became much, much more. Still, though it’s been quite a trip watching this band dramatically evolve since this came out, these songs hold up, and this album has received plenty of spins from me - then, now, and in between. Note: I prefer the CD for its lack of bonus tracks; 20 is plenty! Another note: I was pleasantly surprised when they broke out “This Secret Ninja” when I saw them on the “Sing the Sorrow” tour. It was a delightful affirmation that for all their evolution, their roots were fully intact, and that the amazingly sophisticated and suddenly big-name band I was watching was the same as the hardcore band I rocked out to as a teenage punk kid, long before they or I knew who any of us would end up becoming.
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