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Bouncing Souls/Anti-Flag 

BYO Split Series Volume IV (BYO)

When they say Split Series, they're not kidding: Not only do New Jersey's Bouncing Souls and Pittsburgh's Anti-Flag each get six songs on Los Angeles label BYO's fourth volume of the series, but they each get their own set of liner notes. Jersey Beat 'zine founder Jim Testa handles the Souls, while U.K. Subs guitarist Nicky Garratt does the honors for Anti-Flag.

Perhaps it would've been more interesting to switch them around. What gave the third volume of the series (released last spring) a lot of its aesthetic tension was the fact the bands -- NOFX and Rancid -- spent their time covering each other's material. Here, the Bouncing Souls play only one Anti-Flag song and vice versa, though the Souls also cover Sticks and Stones and Cock Sparrer, while Anti-Flag takes on the Buzzcocks. It's less a friendly competition than a straightforward showcase. And "straightforward" is the watchword: only Anti-Flag leavens its trad buzzsaw attack (with hints of Jamaican skank). Both bands -- and especially Anti-Flag -- get by on enthusiasm, not to mention pungent songwriting: We can always use songs that ask, "National pride inside you/Building you up, or limiting you?"

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