Can America Survive? (Sorry State Records)

Dark Ages 

Can America Survive?
(Sorry State Records)

After a squeal of feedback, a thrumming bass line kicks in, and the debut LP from KC punks Dark Ages is off and running. The band's sound and aesthetic hearken back to the heyday of SST, and the cover art calls to mind New Day Rising by Hüsker Dü — a band that, like Dark Ages, manages to avoid punk-rock tonal cliches. With the arpeggiated notes that begin "Yellow Eyes," the rhythmic shifts during "More Agression" and the way singer Jordan Carr's vocals convey outrage on "Merchants of Cool," a primary goal of Can America Survive seems to be making punk rock a little uncomfortable again. The songs are big enough for fist-pumping and sing-alongs, but listeners expecting the usual us-against-the-system punk banality will be presented with a sense of impending doom, for which they might not be ready. Nowhere is that more clear than on the album's closer, a cover of Choke's "Easier to Die" that's almost relentlessly downbeat.

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