The National Rifle
Gig Seeker Pro

The National Rifle

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"The National Rifle Wage Life 6/10"

Where else in America could The National Rifle hail from other than Philadelphia, home of Rocky Balboa, the Continental Congress, and the Broad Street Bullies? Their curt brand of power-punk sweats like a plucky boxer, snarls like a veteran defenseman with a broken nose, and swills beer with Ben Franklin's philosophic certainty. All of this is on display on The National Rifle's self-released EP Wage Life, as well as a hearty helping or two of Clash-style branching-out. Frantic keys shreik through out a solo in "Gay Rock'n'Roll", "Crustache" begins with goose-stepping synths, and infectious highlight "Girls at the Clinic" has wacky three-part harmonies colliding with even wackier horn bleats. The National Rifle evades pigeonholing with bratty dexterity. "Now you're a bitch to your pension plan", the poor rubes at home are told, but these guys are nobody's bitch.

PopMatters july 2008 - Pop Matters

"The National rifle Wage Life CDEP"

The National Rifle is a confounding band. I've listened to Wage Life a dozen times in the last 24 hours and still can't figure out if I hate it or if it's pretty damn amazing. The last time I was torn like this was when I heard deerhunter's first record. The National Rifle tread more on the Chicago end of things ( a al chin up chin up), but have an insidiously quirky tendency towards left turns that I'm rapidly getting a taste for. The Schizophrenia is very Philly, The National Rifle manage to stay on the right side of the hipster spectrum while still getting the assess shaking. And ass-shaking does seem to be a priority for The National Rifle: in general on Wage Life in particular. "Girls at the Clinic" does it with horns and a funky edge, while "Gay Rock and Roll" starts Faint and ends up Sweet. Everything is especially well recorded on the six songs here, to the point where you might suspect a gang of studio trickery. Not so, as the live track appended on to the end will attest. With Wage Life, The National Rifle seem like they may be leaving day jobs far behind.

Skyscraper Issue 28 Summer 2008 - Skyscraper Magazine

"The National Rifle Album Review 7/10"

The only complaint I’ve been able to find from other reviewers about National Rifle is that the seven songs on Wage Life sound too much alike. No one seems to bad mouth the group’s smarmy but politically aware lyrics, or the toe tapping dance grooves that make up the backbone of their post-punk rock and roll jams. Apparently the record is just too cohesive for some people. Personally Wage Life has really impressed me. Maybe it’s the soul inflected horns on “Girls at the Clinic.” Or the Devo meets The Stones riffs on “Crustache.” Maybe it’s just that this EP sounds like the work of a band who has an idea of where they want their music to go, and the road map seemingly shows the influences that got them their from Death From Above, 1979 to Ted Leo to afore mentioned Rolling Stones and even bits of The Clash. Of course I can’t prove those are the band’s influences, but if they aren’t I’m even more duly impressed. The National Rifle is on the path to greatness, and Wage Life shows they’re well on their way there. Those in need of some bad ass indie rock for their next leftist dance parties should check these guys out ASAP. Heck, I’ll even give you the link.
- Mammoth Press

"The National Rifle Wage Life Album Review"

Trying to describe The National Rifle’s sound is difficult. Catchy? Yes. Upbeat? Certainly. Humorous? Definitely. The music maintains the same characteristics, yet the instruments change in timbre and type frequently, sometimes a great amount of times in the same song. The first track, “Baby Stole my Gun,” features a marimba effect on keys for one phrase. “Kickin’ Dogs” requires an organ and horn, while “Girls at the Clinic” even includes a saxophone, and “Crustache” boasts a synth and multiple percussion instruments. How do these peculiar instruments fit into indie rock? Quite well, actually.

There doesn’t seem to be a definitive, constant sound to the electric instrumentation. At times the guitar is simply playing light, clean chords, and at times kicking in the overdrive and rocking out. The effect quality to the eighth note strumming on the first track sounds majestic, and the echo on the palm muted intro is so subtle but so perfect. It gives the song a dreamy feature. Then during and after the chorus “I know you know / I know you know why,” we get a Strokes vibe, with light and choppy distortion. This band knows how to use pedal effects in their music. The bass follows pretty much the same: clean one moment, heavy the next and always just right. He’s getting all the tone he can out of that instrument. Vocally, the frontman’s voice is well suited to the style, with an offbeat, quirky approach to singing that truly fits. The drums (or percussion, rather) always sound crisp and clear, especially the floor tom part, and all these descriptions in sound are on just the first track.

To attempt to describe The National Rifle’s sound is futile. The sheer amount of instrumentation and changes in sound, while overall pleasing, is a mystery to those not in the know. Wage Life breaks all the rules, and then rebuilds them again in a fun, happy sound. (Self-released)

- Performer Magazine Northeast Edition

"The National Rifle Wage Life 7.2/10"

What if Elvis Costello was still churning out upbeat, poppy numbers like his early work? What if you took away some of the crackle and rough edges, and replaced them with pristine production and a lot of "whoa-oh-oh's"? What if, to spice things up, you threw in a dash of socialist rhetoric, a pinch of hand-held percussion, and a sprinkle of saxophone?

Wage Life is The National Rifle's second self-release, their first being a 2006 self-titled EP. Wage Life carries a blatant theme of modern hard times with a call to action that we must re-examine the "work mythology." This is paired up with a catchy indie pop that shows a variety of influences, the most obvious being Elvis Costello, Ted Leo, and Joe Jackson.

The National Rifle is an interesting mix of styles, as their brand of indie pop is incredibly radio friendly, with easily defined choruses and memorable hooks that could easily be used in commercials - in fact, I can almost swear that I've heard "Gaggers" in one - but the lyrical tone of the revolutionary will keep the band off the airwaves. If you secretly enjoy British pop but wish you could see performances in more intimate venues, The National Rifle might be perfect for you. The record's final track, a live recording of "Tina," seems a little out of place due to the difference in recording quality, but is a good song that sounds like a slightly less nasal Ted Leo fronting a Second Wave ska band.

If anything, the songs on Wage Life come across as too polished at times. For much of the record, the vocals are more “na na na” than firebrand. Only in "Gay Rock'n'Roll" does the singer really emote, albeit more subtly than most political outfits. Not coincidentally, this is my favorite track with its heavily Costello-influenced sound.

As for packaging, the CD is a collage of Socialist imagery not far from how I styled my dorm room when I was nineteen (including the very same 1984 "Big Brother is Watching You"). However, for a band as politically focused as The National Rifle, I would have appreciated if the lyrics were included. The recording quality is good overall, but when additional instrumentation such as the saxophone and harmonica are used, they sound little tinny.

The pop sensibilities of the band contrast nicely with The (International) Noise Conspiracy-toned lyrics and the album comes across as a positive and fun romp instead of an expression of frustration and anger.
Independent, 2008
Author: Loren
Score: 7.2 / 10
Related Links
- Scene Point Blank

"Wage Life EP review 7/10"

Given the huge success of bands such as The Strokes, The Hives, The White Stripes and the like in the past few years, it's no surprise that the last 12 months has seen an increasing influx of garage meets indie meets punk styled records to our mailbox. All too often, though, these sound like identical clones of the heavyweights, only without enough good songs to back them up. Although Philadelphia-based The National Rifle could definitely be lumped in the same pile as the copy-catters, something about their sophomore EP "Wage Life" is different enough to have me raise eyebrows just a little more than usual.

First off, if you're a fan of The Strokes, The Hives and The White Stripes, you will absolutely love The National Rifle. Not because the band sounds exactly like one of those bands, but because they take something from all of them and inject it with a healthy dose of optimistic rock and roll groove to distinguish themselves.

So even though "Baby Stole My Guns" opens with a bass line that immediately reminds you of The Strokes, the rest of the song makes it clear that The National Rifle are no clone band. The sound has more raw energy to it than The Strokes, and the vocalist doesn't sound as cleanly produced, which is a great detail here, as it adds edge to the vocals. This in turn immediately sparks a rebellious rock and roll feel to the album, remotely similar to what you've heard from The Armed Forces, and perhaps even Say Anything.

"Gaggers" deviates from the poppy sound of the opener significantly, adding Wolfmother-esque groove during the chorus, which can of course also be connected to The White Stripes, if you will. Then it's time to go a little less tense and intimidating with "Girls At The Clinic", which holds bouncy guitars and care-free "don't do it" vocals. The undersigned is instantly reminded of the summer hit "Steal my Sunshine" (Len) during the chorus - and if that doesn't put you in a good mood then I don't know what. Worth mentioning here are also the strange saxophone jazz-odysseys that the band injects into the otherwise poppy sound.

As if that wasn't trippy enough in a garage rock format, "Crustache" has a distinct disco-beat supporting the "failureee.. a failureee" chorus, again underlining why I mentioned this band as being different in the introductory paragraph of this review. By now the song titles should have made you grasp that The National Rifle isn't the most serious band out there, but just in case you didn't, "Gay Rock'N'Roll" should take care of the last doubts. This is a song featuring worry-free rock and roll at its best; lots of attitude enriched by a posi-core atmosphere (see Good Clean Fun for posi-core).

In summary, "Wage Life" borrows a bit from all the three heavyweight garage/indie/punk bands in the scene, while adding The National Rifle's own personal touch to the songs in the process. In other words, even though the band sounds a little bit like The Strokes or The Hives, it never crosses the boundary and becomes annoyingly noticeable. Be prepared to be surprised during each song, as the band teases you with short jazz-, country-, and god knows what else-passages in the middle of their otherwise straight forward garage rock sound - this is the cornerstone of their sound and the reason why they sound so refreshingly different. Why aren't these guys signed yet

The National Rifle - Wage Life EP
Written by: PP on 14/7-08 at
- Rock

"The National Rifle Wage Life EP 7/10"

The National Rifle is, uh, not exactly a tribute band to the nation‘s defender of those rights so beautifully enumerated in the Second Amendment. Or maybe it is. I think from the titles of some the tracks on the Philadelphia, PA quartet’s seven track EP, WAGE LIFE, they’re trying to skirt the trademark laws and piss off the nation’s most powerful lobbying association at the same time. Understand, I think the Second Amendment needs all the help it can get, and indeed, I am a life member of the same organization which The National Rifle appears to be attempting to want to bedevil. Like The National Rifle, however, I am not without a sense of humor, and hey, the anti-communist propaganda with which the jacket to WAGE LIFE is adorned is almost as appropriate today as it was in the 1950s (that state-by-state communist total is dead on accurate, if you multiply each number by 100). On top of that, The National Rifle, which appears to be a bunch of lefties, is at least not as blatantly obnoxious as Rage Against The Machine (unlike Tom Morello, they don’t dress like they’re going to Halloween in Madison, WI), and for the most part, is pretty clever. If wrong.

Reference points here would be Squeeze and Spoon. The National Rifle has a guitar/bass/organ/drum lineup, augmented occasionally by the fine additional of Eliot Levin on sax (“Girls In The Clinic,” “Kickin‘ Dogs”); while Levin’s reach occasionally exceeds his grasp, he makes up for it with enthusiasm, and that’s not a bad thing, not at all. Interestingly enough, it is “Tina,” the live track, which is the weakest. I’m thinking it is more the material, and not some sort of studio magic, that makes the rest of WAGE LIFE much stronger than this track. This is particularly true with respect to “Kickin’ Dogs,” which sounds like it went down live in the studio.

Some reviews have been critical of WAGE LIFE, stating that all of the tracks sound alike, but that’s not what I’m hearing, even after a number of spins. I don’t know if I would want to listen to it every day, or even every week, but WAGE LIFE definitely has its share of moments and is worth more than a couple of front to back plays. -

"The National Rifle: Wage Life 4.25/5.00"

Looking over the album cover and art work of Philadelphia?s The National Rifle?s latest EP, ?Wage Life,? one gets the feeling that they have a message ? what with all the old-timey propaganda poster collages depicting the evils of the Red Commie bastards and other menaces to our freedoms. None of that matters much to me as long as it sounds good. And guess what? It does.

The boys (and girl) of the band play a blend of punk and garage rock. Maybe a little new wave thrown in there for good measure. ?Gaggers? could almost be a White Stripes song. ?Crustache? has that above mentioned new wave thing going on and wait ... is that a cow bell? They hop in and out of styles with ease. It somehow all fits and makes sense. Another highlight is ?Girls at the Clinic,? which almost sounds like they nicked the melody from the ?Sesame Street? theme song.

The National Rifle?s secret weapon seems to be not a gun at all, but keyboard player and percussionist Nadia. Her playing really fleshes out the already well-written and upbeat songs, including featured track ?Baby Stole My Gun.? Not to discount the rest of the band. They all turn in stellar performances, including the guest spot on sax by Elliot Levin.

Catchy and memorable. If ?Wage Life? doesn?t get your head bobbing and feet tapping you certainly must be dead -

"Wage Life GradeB+/A-"

Philly's The National Rifle are probably the best indie-punkthat you've never heard of, as well as one of the best unsigned bands kicking around. Featuring social and political undertones, The National Rifle sticking point is their favorable comparison to poppier Clash songs which are infused with melodies and a sometimes perfect vocal cadence. you may also think a lighter Anti-Flag. But a near-perfect comparison is to the Quebec band Frenetics. Whatever your anchor point, a few songs on Wage Life will make you extremely glad that you haven't lost your hearing. Unquestionably the top song is the opener "Baby Stole My Gun"- a song that makes you take notice the second the vocals kick in. After the average "Gaggers" comes "Girls at the Clinic", which makes begins in a similar manner to the opener but utilizes 50s pop harmonies in places that offers an interesting twist. "Crustache" is an odd electronic-based song, while "Gay Rock'n'Roll" ushers in uptempo Elvis Costello-tinged punk rock. Wage Life finishes up on the horn-orgy "Kickin' Dog," which is fairly bad, and "Tina" recorded dirtily live. With a bit of polish The National Rifle might become an exciting diversion in your life. -

"The National Rifle Wage Life"

The National Rifle, an unsigned band out of Philadelphia, is catchy, upbeat, and has just the right combination of substance and fun lightheartedness. With a slightly unconventional background, the group has an interesting backstory - the members evaded a fate as a boy band - as well as a promising future. Occasionally employing a saxophone and infectious, anthemic choruses, The National Rifle goes from jazz to classic punk sounds in no time at all. This diversity goes together perfectly and makes The National Rifle unique and memorable. “We got strong beliefs,” they sing on “Gay Rock ‘n Roll,” and indeed they do - but they do not club the listener over the head with their message.

This fusing of genres begs to be seen in person, and the group is known for their rowdy live shows. As a band that tours extensively, The National Rifle has built a scattered but dedicated fan base. Short and sweet at just seven tracks, The National Rifle is able to keep their politically-infused lyrics tame enough so the music remains accessible, but are substantive enough to qualify them as valuable commentary. The best track is perhaps the funky and contagious “Kickin’ Dogs,” followed closely by “Girls at the Clinic,” which has a bit of a rougher edge.

This band understands their audience and are obvious music lovers - there is not one hint of pretentiousness throughout this entire album. They easily identify with who their audience is, which is articulated clearly in their lyrics and the album as a whole. A slim seven tracks keeps this album all quality and no fluff. Wage Life definitely warrants a close look, and maybe even going to see them live.


Self Titled EP released August '06
Wage Life released April '08
Man Full of Trouble released May '09



In 2008, the four Philly kids in THE NATIONAL RIFLE released an EP full of such spirited
punk vitriol and smart pop acumen that folks on both sides of the DIY divide were grinning
in delight. Pop Matters praised the band's "bratty dexterity," while Skyscraper noted that
"The National Rifle manage to stay on the right side of the hipster spectrum while still
getting the asses shaking."
So what's a band in the RIFLE's position to do? Go for Green Day pop-crossover heights?
Or listen to the little punk-rock devil on its shoulder and do everything in its power to
alienate the establishment?
It was a close fight, but the devil fights dirty, and in the end, THE NATIONAL RIFLE came
close to tearing the whole sonic building down during the writing and recording of their
newest offering, Man Full of Trouble. Still present are all of the hallmark signs that fans
have come to expect of a RIFLE album: The indelible sing-along hooks, the artsy punk riot,
the seamless amalgam of politically pocked, Philly-soul-infused rock and oddball punk. But
for Man Full of Trouble, the foursome deconstruct their sound in a way that challenges, and
maybe redefines, convention. The crystalline pop songs are smashed to pieces, melted
down and reforged into something creaky, fierce and perfect in its own glaring, jangly
"I always admire the bands that can pretty much do what they want creatively and maintain
or even increase the excitement that people have for their band," says singer/guitarist
Hugh. "That's a tall order in rock-and-roll history sense, but I'd be incredibly satisfied if I
could have the type of career that I've seen in the past 10 years with bands like OF
"We're trying to show that we're not some 'one-style' punk rock band," adds keyboardist/
percussionist Lynna. "Even though the first EP was a success and very popular, we want to
show that there are other sides of the band that are even better." Ultimately, Man Full of
Trouble manages to rival the slight-of-hand trickery of a latter-day WILCO or FLAMING LIPS
album – in its mischief, its stylistic wanderlust and composition-through-decomposition, it
ends up being as captivating and enamoring as its more straightforward, candy-coated
While the band's 2008 album railed unflinchingly against the injustices and unfulfilled
promises of post-9/11 America, Man Full of Trouble finds Hugh turning inwards to explore a
weapon of mass destruction a little closer to the heart: love. "It’s really about how we’re
controlled by love or how we use love to control others," he explains. "The album's title
itself is from the name of the oldest surviving tavern building in Philadelphia. It made me
think of almost this glorification of men as being rebels and troublemakers. I related to that
idea with a sense of guilt where I felt like I really screwed up some people's lives because of
the way I chose to deal with certain relationships. I think everyone can relate to that feeling
where it seems like you’re only creating trouble for those around you."
Even as THE NATIONAL RIFLE's world continues to expand, the band members are doing
their damnedest to keep a firm grip on their roots. They did it during an ill-fated stint under
the same management group as Pink, who (pre-Lynna) tried to turn them into a boy-band.
They did it while playing a series of sold-out shows in Philadelphia with their friend and fan
Jackson Rathbone's (from the Twilight movies) band. And they'll continue, no matter how
bright those spotlights get, to keep both feet planted in the world of sweaty basement
shows, DIY ethics and feverish, faithful fans.
The National Rifle are currently touring to promote their 2009 EP "Man Full of Trouble".