Under The Radar: Squad 5-0

Squad Five-O really split the faithful down the middle on this one; half the fans thought it was a logical progression towards a more commercial pop punk sound, and the other half hated it…for the very same reason. (Ah well, at least everyone was on the same page in some way.)

I loved the record – I thought it combined all the elements of classic punk and glam with modern production and an infectious energy that never seemed forced or phony. This was no preening, choreographed Fall Out Boy posturing – this band wanted to rock for all the right reasons and was able to capture that on a studio disc.

Well, I guess it doesn’t matter. Poof! Adam and Dave moved along to become Marah’s guitarist and drummer, respectively, in what was probably that band’s best lineup to date. Of course Marah being Marah, the Bielankos cleared the personnel decks on the eve of the tour for their latest album, and…that was that. Adam and Dave (along with another ex-Marahite, Kirk Henderson) now have Bloodline (I’ll be linking to my review as soon as it’s published) so the odds on Squad 6-O are probably slim to none.

None of that affects just how good this record is, so whether you hold out hope for a reunion or light a candle to the past, give it a shot. Here’s my original take five years ago when I rated it my #2 album of 2004, just behind Green Day‘s American Idiot

They only gave themselves three stars

They only gave themselves three stars


Matt Wallace producing your band means you get the big rawk sound made for radio and – better yet – your record will probably get a spin on the airwaves to see if it can survive. After years of grassroots punk touring, the Squad takes their shot with a major label to see if they can outrun the Rancid/Clash tag they’re been stuck with. Truth is they’re all over the map on this new release, from the Urge Overkill nod in “Always Talkin’, Never On The Run” to the country-via-Del Lords “Train Of Shame”.

Naturally there’s the requisite ska-punk dalliances and the throaty vocals of yelper Jeff Fortsun, but it’s drummer Dave Petersen who really sells every song (and what do you expect from a guy who played in a Ramones tribute band – lethargy?). Overall, some great stuff – dashes of glam and Izzy Stradlin, driving bass lines hammering my favorite track “Left Alone” – even their overlong closer “Everything” could be forgiven as being anthemic. So let’s hope the jocks see the Matt Wallace imprint, pop it in and let it ride. Regardless, you can go to the store and cast your vote monetarily. 

Buy a copy at Amazon.

Squad 5-O discography.

Visit their MySpace site for a listen.

Savor the moments.


Filed under Features and Interviews, Music, Reviews

5 responses to “Under The Radar: Squad 5-0

  1. St. Terry

    This was easily one of, if not my favorite album of all time. Squad Five-O has been my favorite band period for years and its sad to see their talent didnt get recognized on a large scale. Im one of the hopeful waiting for a reunion 🙂

  2. Chicago Dan

    i’ve been a huge fan since the album what i believe. i love this band. there all-of-a-sudden disbanding was shocking and sad.
    this album was a bit more political than their previous self titled album (most likely due to Dave the drummer writing most of the lyrics).
    this album is sort of striped down rock. songs like “always talking…” and “2 grand…” are definitely classics. the band is still yet to really capture the energy they display in live performances (perhaps a live album would do the trick). i think this was a good direction for the band, and i would have liked to see what the next album would have sounded like. these songs were amazing when the band played live. i still enjoy this album though i find myself turning on the bands previous albums by the time i get to “no heros”. i would also give this album 3 outa 5 stars. i also hope for a reunion.

  3. Jen

    Squad five-o has long been a favorite band of mine! i bought this album and 3 days after the release i saw them again in concert. already knowing all the words! lol…. my experiences withthe band have always been amazing. i miss them touring together but an glad for their new endeavors!

  4. ag

    Great review. Squad is hands-down my all time favorite band, ever since their first label-release in 1997. They were my biggest inspiration throughout high school to play and write my own music. They deserved much more attention than they received with Late News Breaking. Perhaps the greatest thing about SFO was their incomparable live shows. I’ve never seen/experienced such energy and unity between the band and the audience with any other music group. I’m also indebted to them for their kindness and generosity towards me personally. Here’s hoping for a reunion!

  5. Agreed. Squad Five O was an amazing band. Late News Breaking is amazing. I’ve always loved them, and always loved to see what came next. I was selling junk by their merch table at cornerstone 04. I opted to watch Blaster the Rocketman twice which played the same times Squad was playing. Ouch. They failed to mention they were going to break up. Great album. Great memories.

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