MakeWar aren’t like most of the other punk bands out there. They play what I call midtempo punk. It’s not built on anthems, choruses or super-fast into-the-pit adrenaline. Get It Together isn’t about fist-in-the-air release, it’s about built-up tension. The band is actively calling for people to (ahem) Get. It. Together. The tone is one of frustration and marginalization, but with a vein that we, the listeners, can pull above the tide and make a difference. Tempo wise it’s akin to Arms Aloft. Lyrically, it’s more similar to Strike Anywhere.
There’s a lot to like about Get It Together and it gets better on repeat. The songs continually surprise. The first listen hits the obvious, core emotional connections but the nuance and subtly come through the more the record spins. Songs like “American Futbol” and “No Mas” carry messages of unity amid struggle, but there’s pain, growth and overcoming disparity on this record. It’s brimming with frustration, but it’s ultimately positive and unified underneath that bitterness. “Me casa es tu casa,” as they say in the bilingual and aforementioned “American Futbol.” It’s true unity music that doubles as a call to action. It’s urgent, but it’s art instead of jingoism.
It’s hard to capture the beauty of MakeWar’s songwriting. Most punk relies on breakdowns and tempo to convey emotion. If not, dynamic changes and blunt vocals do the job. For MakeWar, the songs truly progress and shift as Jose actually sings, his delivery weary but not dreary. It bears that unique heart that isn’t written on a music sheet. An example comes right at the record’s start, and it’s a great way to highlight how the band could utilize more genre-specific tropes. “Hopeless Dreamers” begins with a hushed verse over staccato chords that slowly build. The song seems destined for a group “whoa-oh” to kick things into the next gear. But that moment passes with a quiet pause before the instrumentation builds. Twists like this breath a lot of life into this record.
It’s not all midtempo subtly, though. “Inmunda Realidad” is a rager, “Hands On The Tyrant” has some chugga chugga West Coast riffs that will have longtime Fat Wreck listeners reminiscing, and “Oh, Brother” is a singalong punk anthem of the sort I’ve been saying they mostly avoid – but MakeWar still rips those conventions to shreds with a “Confessions Of A Futon Revolutionist-esque” perspective.
Get It Together has a common theme at play from start-to-finish, but it’s varied all the way through which keeps it fresh, powerful, and inspiring. It’s a fitting title.
8.0 / 10
Posted March 6, 2020, 9:36 p.m.
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