Punk rock has always been about smashing systems of control. In the careerist era of glam/Arena Rock of the '70s, bands spat in the faces of the idea you had to have expensive musical equipment to be worth listening to. They took it even further, dismantling the notion that talent or skill were prerequisites for having something interesting to say.

Punk rock is all about giving Two Fingers Up to any limitations. It's about telling the Haters to kindly Piss Off. It's about not asking for permission and doing your own thing anyway.

It's always been vaguely disturbing how rot and repetitious not just Punk Rock, but most forms of guitar-centric Rock 'n Roll has become in the 21st Century. Music that started out as a soundtrack for drug-abusing, switchblade-wielding Misfits has become more polite than the lightest jazz. Rock 'n roll has gone from being a rebellious soundtrack to a lifestyle accessory for pre-distressed jeans.

Like most artforms, music genres of recent years, queer politics and communities are injecting a much-needed dose of danger, confusion, autonomy, and actual rebellion back into Punk and Rock 'n Roll. "Still Alive" by Glasgow's The Spook School is another fine example from the binary-smashing quartet.



The past, present, and future of Punk intersect in "Still Alive." The Spook School feature a kind of snarky New Wave vocal style, in line with The Stranglers, Devo, or the Dead Kennedys’ Jello Biafra. "Still Alive" explores a similar style of humor and menace to many of the new wave bands, delivering some much-appreciated cognitive dissonance that is 100 times more confrontational than your average spiked-and-studded exploited-knock-off band.

Like many of those new wave bands, The Spook School laces their indie punk with classic tunefulness. Razor-sharp cheese-grater guitars crank out addictive melodies and infectious chord changes over a pummeling, charging beat. It's the sound of driving at 5 a.m., coming home from an overnight party ingesting too much Lick-Em-Aid and orange tang.

The Spook School are making punk/rock 'n roll challenging and confrontational again. Luckily, their politics are not so po-faced as your average overly-earnest crust or anarcho band. For those who like to read Marxist texts while watching cartoon reruns, "Still Alive" will make you glad that you're still breathing.