Almost a year ago to the day, independent punk rock outfit Steadfast released its then latest album, Transmitters through Pine Box Derby. The problem is that because of the COVID-19 pandemic, its release never really got the distribution and coverage that it otherwise could have had. To that end, Pine Box Derby is giving the album a new push to punk rock fans worldwide. Those audiences are certain to appreciate this new record in part because of the record’s featured musical arrangements. They will be discussed shortly. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s featured musical arrangements add their own appeal to the album, so they will be discussed a little later. The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will be discussed later, too. Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of the record. All things considered, they make Transmitters a record that will send a strong signal of its own to any punk rock fans.
Steadfast’s most recent album Transmitters was released July 10, 2020, but as noted, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic negatively impacted its distribution and coverage. Had it received the distribution and coverage that it deserved last year, it no doubt would have become one of the year’s top new independent and punk rock albums. That is proven in part through its featured arrangements. The arrangements in question are punk rock at its purest. Throughout the course of the album’s 11 songs, the arrangements immediately lend themselves to works from the likes of Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, and to a lesser extent, Green Day. As a matter of fact, if audiences were to hear any part of this album without knowing it was Steadfast, the vocals alone would lead listeners to believe they were hearing DKM co-vocalist Al Barr or even Rancid front man Tim Armstrong. The addition of the catchy guitars, driving time keeping, and rich bass line does just as much in each song to make the arrangements bear such a close similarity. Even with all of this in mind, the arrangements do still bear their own identity separate from those of the aforementioned bands. That is revealed through a close listen. It is just that the similarities are that close between Steadfast and its more well-known counterparts. All in all, the arrangements featured in Transmitters prove to be reason enough in themselves for audiences to hear the album. They are collectively just one part of what makes Transmitters successful. The lyrical themes that accompany the album’s musical arrangements add another layer of enjoyment to the album.
The lyrical themes featured in Transmitters are fully accessible in their own right. Right from the record’s outset, the band offers up a song in its title track that celebrates independent music and the pirate (independent) radio stations that help spread the word about that music. This is made clear right from the song’s lead verse, which states, “I heard the needle on the record drop while the DJ said “this ain’t the top of the charts/The music’s fast and it’s f****** loud/This is your pirate radio!”/Hear the sounds from the underground/Beaming their waves all over town/It’s a radio riot and it won’t settle down it’s a force they can’t control/Turn it all the way up – to the limit/Gonna watch the speakers explode/Turn it all the way up – to the limit on Revolution Radio/Revolution Radio/Turn it all the way up for the world to know/That it’s a force that they can’t control (whoa oh) Revolution Radio.” The song’s second verse continues that celebration of all things independent as it states, “Transmitters to receivers hidden around the town for the disbelievers/To hear the truths from the rebel youths on the pirate radio!/Tune it in, turn it loud, sing along until you’re falling down/It belongs to me and you so be proud that it’s a force they can’t control.” So right here, audiences clearly understand the accessibility of the album’s lyrical themes. That simple, accessible theme, paired with the song’s equally infectious musical arrangement, makes the song in whole a powerful whole for the album.
As much as ‘Transmitters’ does to show the importance of the album’s fully accessible lyrical themes, it is just one example of that impact. ‘Integrity,’ one of the album’s late entries, is accessible in its own right even as it presents a familiar political commentary throughout its three-and-a-half-minute presentation. Front man Jason Bancroft takes no sides here, instead indicting politicians really on both sides of the aisle. This is made clear as he sings in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “You’re a career politician with nothing to say/A puppet of a party who’s pulling the strings/With everything you do and everything your say/It proves that you have no f****** integrity/Now we’re sick and tired of the same old s***/How can you ignore the truth with no regrets?/The passions of the people will not calm lightly/You’re adding fuel to the fire of the next uprising/Don’t tell us lies just tell us the truth/See people suffer from your indecision/Don’t tell us lies just tell us the truth/Are you ready for the inquisition?/It’s defiance not reliance that we need/Because the system that’s controlling us is making us bleed.” The song’s second verse continues the indictment of the political elite on both sides as it attacks both sides for “Giving to the rich/While robbing from the poor/Getting what you want by giving empty promises.” Such lyrical content is familiar territory for any punk band. Keeping that in mind, it is yet another clear, accessible theme that because of that clarity and connection, shows once more, the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. It is just one more of the songs that serves to show the noted importance. ‘Just Disbelievers’ is yet another example of that importance.
‘Just Disbelievers’ is, lyrically, a familiar anthem for a disenfranchised generation. It is an anthem of proud defiance against those who would otherwise just discount said individuals. As with the other themes addressed here, it is an all-too-familiar lyrical theme in the punk realm. The anthem opens with Bancroft singing in the song’s lead verse and chorus, “We may seem young and hopeless – we may seem all the same/You might think that you know about us – but you don’t even know our name/You might think that you can stop us – put our backs up against a wall/It will take much more to stop us – because you’ll have to stop us all/We won’t go down without a fight/We might not win but that’s alright/We won’t go down without a fight/We won’t give in – no!” that proud defiance continues in the song’s second verse in which Bancroft sings, “We are all saints and sinners – losers and sometimes winners/We are not king and queens/or followers/Just Disbelievers!/We will not be forgotten – won’t be content just to move along/Didn’t say we weren’t contradictions/But when we’re not right we’re still not wrong.” Such content goes back a long way through the history of punk (and rock/metal in general). That the band presented such a familiar theme in such an easily accessible fashion, reminding a whole new generation of listeners to stand up to those who would just toss them aside, is even more proof of the importance of the album’s lyrical themes. When it and the other lyrical themes examined here are considered along with the album’s other lyrical themes, the whole leaves no doubt as to the importance of the album’s lyrical content. When that overall content is paired with the album’s equally accessible punk sounds, the whole of that content forms a solid foundation for the album. Taking all of that into account, the sequencing of that content rounds out the album’s most important elements.
Transmitters’ sequencing is important in part because in considering the album’s content, it ensures the album’s lyrical themes change from one song to the next. From the fun to the more serious to the generally contemplative, the themes change throughout the course of the record’s 40-minute run time. That in itself ensures listeners’ engagement and entertainment. Additionally, the sequencing keeps the record’s energy high from one arrangement to the next. The DIY, garage punk stylistic approach stays largely the same throughout with the changes in the arrangements remaining subtle from one to the next. A close listen to the songs reveals those subtle changes from one song to the next. That and the constant energy does its own part to keep listeners engaged, too. When it and the engagement and entertainment ensured through the album’s lyrical variety are considered together, it shows clearly the role of the album’s sequencing to its presentation, too. All things considered, these three elements make Transmitters an impressive offering from Steadfast that deserves its own share of attention among punk purists.
Steadfast’s most recent album, Transmitters is a positive offering from the independent punk rock band. The album’s success comes in part through its featured musical arrangements. The arrangements are all high-energy compositions whose melodies and general presentations lend themselves to comparison to works from the likes of Rancid, Dropkick Murphys and even Green Day. They are infectious works that even with the comparisons in mind still have their own identities, making for reason enough to hear the album. The album’s lyrical themes are just as accessible as their musical counterparts. They are varied from one to the next, ranging from the silly to the serious. When they are considered along with the album’s musical arrangements, the collective gives audiences even more reason for audiences to hear the album. The record’s sequencing brings all of that content together and keeps the album’s energy high from start to end. At the same time, it ensures listeners remain engaged and entertained by changing up the record’s lyrical themes throughout its 40-minute run time. Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of the album. All things considered, they make Transmitters a presentation that any punk purist will enjoy.
Transmitters is available now through Pine Box Derby. More information on the album is available along with all of the band’s latest news at:
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