As any fan of the Lawrence Arms can tell you, there are two sides to the long-running Chicago-rooted band that make them so special. On one side, you’ve got the softer sensibilities of guitarist-vocalist Chris McCaughan that have lent the band a hint of tender sentimentality on songs like “100 Resolutions,” which he took with him to his acoustic solo project Sundowner. And on the other side, there is the input of bassist-vocalist Brendan Kelly, who adds a rougher, brattier, and yes, sometimes lovably juvenile element which has also been on full display with his side project The Falcon. While both sides are dynamic in their own rights, it’s where the two meet in the middle that makes the Lawrence Arms the perfectly balanced punk yin yang that has endured for just shy of 20 years. And while the Arms’ sound can lean one way or the other from song to song, the band manages to be the ship that never capsizes in the storm.
“Warped Summer Extravaganza (Turbo Excellent),” a track from their forthcoming retrospective collection We Are The Champions Of The World, is a great example of a song that tips heavily towards Kelly. The song is a sped-up rock version of a country-twanged bonus track from the Arms’ 2006 album Oh! Calcutta!, and is how it was originally intended to sound on the album until a bit of serendipity led to the band to craft, and subsequently prefer, the country version. The version is as fast as just about anything in their catalog (clocking in at almost a full minute shorter than the Oh! Calcutta! version) and is obnoxiously in-your-face from the get-go as Kelly squawks, “It’s burning! It’s burning! It’s burning! A fire inside that I just don’t believe!” It makes sense that this lightning-speed rendition was the original intention for Oh! Calcutta! seeing as how Kelly once mentioned that the album was the band’s attempt at making their hardest-sounding record.
We Are The Champions Of The World is a “greatest hits” compilation by the Lawrence Arms, which the members fully acknowledge is a bit tongue-in-cheek, as they have no real “hits” to speak of. It’s a 29-song guided tour through their catalog, including 24 of their personal favorite songs and five unreleased recordings from their Oh! Calcutta! sessions. The album also includes a booklet in which Kelly and McCaughan swap stories and memories about each track. “Warped Summer Extravaganza (Turbo Excellent),” Kelly explains in it, “was written to sound at home coming from an early 2000’s Warped Tour stage.” (The band was somewhat famously perma-banned from Warped Tour in 2004 and this song is their slamming of the door on their way out.)
We Are The Champions Of The World, the official compendium of the Lawrence Arms, is out on March 30 via Fat Wreck and you can pre-order it now. The world champs are also hitting the road this spring. Dates below.
4/4 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
4/5 - Garwood, NJ @ Crossroads
4/6 - Lancaster, PA @ Chameleon Club
4/7 - Baltimore, MD @ Soundstage
4/8 - Philadelphia, PA @ Theatre of Living Arts
4/9 - New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
4/10 - Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
4/11 - Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
4/12 - Chicago, IL @ Metro
4/27 - Seattle, WA @ El Corazon
4/28 - Portland, OR @ Hawthorne Theater
4/29 - Sacramento, CA @ Holy Diver
4/30 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
5/1 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
5/2 - Las Vegas, NV @ Beauty Bar
5/3 - Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
5/4 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah
5/5 - Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
5/6 - Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater
8/2 - Blackpool, UK @ Rebellion Festival
8/3 - London, UK @ O2 Forum Kentish Town
8/4 - Duffel, Belgium @ Brakrock Ecofest
8/5 - Utrecht, Netherlands @ Tivoli
8/6 - Trier, Germany @ Lucky's Luke
8/7 - Zurich, Switzerland @ Dynamo
8/8 - Wels, Austria @ Alter Schlachthof
8/9 - Caramagna, Italy @ Last One To Die
8/10 - Tolmin, Slovenia @ Punk Rock Holiday
This article originally appeared on Noisey US.