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Anti-Flag's A-F Records gives Incommunicado a boost

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Pittsburgh punk icons Anti-Flag plan to return to the spotlight soon with tours of Australia, Europe and Russia, and their sixth album, The Bright Lights of America, drops on April 1. But what happened to their DIY label A-F Records, which at one point included locals Tabula Rasa, The Modey Lemon and The Vacancy? It's been quiet, except for Anti-Flag's own A Benefit for Victims of Violent Crimes and the re-formation of The Code. Yet A-F recently helped a Pittsburgh band called Incommunicado step up its game.

Several members of Incommunicado hail from a small northern Pennsylvania town called St. Mary's, connecting with the other members through the Web in 2004. After two years spent playing local gigs and releasing a five-song EP, they were about to self-release a professional recording when a stroke of genius happened, according to guitarist Ryan Warmbrodt.

"Our friend Dan Rock, who worked at A-F, had a copy and played it for Anti-Flag. They liked it, and [drummer] Pat [Thetic] gave me a call and asked if he could put it out. We said sure, but it was early May and we were going to leave for a tour on June 1. So Pat said, 'Let's get this done as fast as we can.'"

Hence the album's title, Losing Daylight. A strong collection of muscular chugga-chugga, the album benefits from similarities to bands that spill over into the A-F fanbase -- Dillinger Four, Avail, Smoke or Fire. "People say we sound like a cross between Hot Water Music and Fugazi," says Warmbrodt, "or like Against Me, with some of the same weird chords, but more distorted." Topical allusions appear in lyrics written by singer Chris Feigh, but Incommunicado doesn't intend to be an overtly political band. "We don't tell people not to eat meat or force our views on anyone. And content-wise, Anti-Flag are way more educated than we are."

So expect fast-paced, high-energy punk without a sermon when these boys take the stage Sun., Jan 20, at the Smiling Moose with Short Long and Scranton's The Menzingers, and Sat. Feb 2, when they play an all-ages show at the Roboto Project with La Grecia (ex-members of Kid Dynamite and None More Black), Northern Aggression, and Punxy pals American Armada.

And then strap yourself in for the band's ride. "The CD seems to be selling well," Ryan says. "We'll be doing three tours this year, and it's much easier to get shows now that people know our name. In December, we got to open a sold-out Anti-Flag show in Lancaster. So it's slowly growing, and I hope it keeps going that way."

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