Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Misfits "Devil's Rain" (2011)

Review by Mark Rooster

New Misfits, post-reunion Misfits, Jerry and the Only's, whatever you'd like to call them--they're not very good. A huge fan of the original incarnation and the 90's version of the Misfits, I've seen Jerry Only's show several times over the last few years, and the live set never fails to disappoint. After Michale Graves left the band, Only got by singing for a while, and brought along folks like Marky Ramone, Robo, and Dez Cadena to back him up, and it wasn't too bad. But he completely lost it a few years ago. Playing the Danzig-era, and some Graves-era, tunes at ridiculously fast speeds, producing a sloppy mess only vaguely recognizable as Misfits songs.

But still, I was kinda looking forward to this album, hoping there might be something worth hearing contained in its fifty-one minutes. After all, I've listened to the "Project 1950" covers album many times since it came out in 2003, and that's got Jerry singing.

No such luck here. Basically, the new album starts out adequately, and after song #2, goes straight down the shitter. I'd say "straight down to Hell," but since this is a Misfits album (of sorts), that would be a compliment. No, "Devil's Rain" takes us nowhere near Hell, but rather to a budget theme park for the whole family, with no scary rides, no roller coaster loops, and nothing too exciting.

Here's a breakdown of the tracks:

"Devil's Rain" really isn't a bad opener. It's got a midtempo beat and is bookended by a thunderstorm, with a catchy chorus, and, while it isn't as good an intro as "Abominable Dr. Phibes" or "Kong at the Gates," it gets the job done. This is followed by "Vivid Red," probably the best song on the album. One of the few almost-thrashers "Devil's Rain" has to offer.

"The Black Hole" is the same kind of boring as "Land of the Dead" and "Twilight of the Dead." It fits appropriately, then, between those two, which by the way have been released together twice as singles ("Land" as the single, with "Twilight" as the B side, two years ago; and now "Twilight" as the single and "Land" as the B side--the album versions this time). Jerry Only knows he's got enough diehard fans who'll buy absolutely anything with the Misfits name on it, so why not put out the same songs twice?

"Curse of the Mummy's Hand" is musically OK, with a decent guitar solo in the middle. But the lyrics to this one are just too silly, even for the Misfits, especially Jerry singing the chorus, "The Mummy's Ha-aaand" in his best attempt at a rockin howl.

Makes me wonder who wrote which songs on "American Psycho" and "Famous Monsters". Lyrics and music on those albums are credited to the band as a whole, but I know from interviews with Michale Graves that different members were responsible for various songs. Graves still performs some of the tunes he wrote for the band, at his solo shows or with various other projects. Musically, "Devil's Rain" isn't very catchy or heavy, two things the Graves-era (and, of course, the Danzig-era) most certainly were, and the lyrics are beyond stupid.

"Cold in Hell" is a good example of lousy writing, with "It's cold in hell, they say, an endless winter" and other similar lines. At least the song's relatively fast. Still, this is about the fastest the record gets. Jerry's habit of speeding up, and in turn muddying up, most of the older songs at their shows really doesn't make sense when listening to this new album. If the guy loves playing those songs so fast, why'd he put out an album of mostly midtempo songs, with only occasional fast moments like "Curse of the Mummy's Hand" and "Cold In Hell"?

"Unexplained" sounds like something Michale Graves could have sung much better. The lyrics are very clear on this one, which isn't a good thing. And "Dark Shadows" seemingly wants to put the listener to sleep; it's a boring ballad that Jerry can't sing properly.

"Father" is almost kinda catchy, joining the ranks of the other almost-good songs on the album.
"Jack the Ripper" is a faster one, the first of two co-written by Dez Cadena. It's all right, but--I guess I probably don't even need to say this anymore--the lyrics are terrible.

"Monkey's Paw" is pretty stupid. The chorus is sang the same way as the chorus for "The Mummy's Hand," and both are equally dumb.

"Where Do They Go?" . . . Here's where the record takes a real southward turn. It was mediocre/tolerable up till this point, but then comes this "throwback" to the 50's. It's the kind of thing Jerry always talks about in interviews, his favorite kind of music, the sounds of his childhood. But having doo-wop girls on a Misfits song (even a 2011 Misfits song) is pretty silly. The chorus comes out of nowhere, makes no sense surrounded by the verses, and is almost embarrassing to listen to.

Almost equally embarrassing is "Sleepwalkin," a lame attempt at throwing some southern rock and blues into the mix.

"Ghost of Frankenstein" is boring, and "Death Ray," the second song co-written by Cadena, is pretty stupid, too long, and ends with a bunch of sci-fi sound effects I could have created on a computer in 1985.

I'm not sure who this album was written for, or if anyone even gives a shit about what the Misfits might be doing these days. If Jerry, Dez, and the guy from Murphy's Law wrote this album for themselves and are happy with it, then good for them. But I can't imagine any fan of either Danzig-era or Graves-era Misfits finding much to like on here. I wonder if they'll speed these songs up for their live show. Actually, that wouldn't be a bad idea, if they have to play them at all: speed some of these bastards up a bit and return the older songs to their proper paces. Or perhaps they'll play these songs in a "block" the way they usually incorporate the "American Psycho" and "Famous Monsters" tunes into their sets, giving the audience a chance to use the bathroom, get a beer, or contemplate leaving early.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The return and H2O "California" (2011)

Well, it's been a hell of a long time since I've written anything for this blog, and I figured it was about time for me to make a (not-so) triumphant return. I've been listening to a shit ton of music recently, but haven't had much of an urge to write anything. I'm not sure if that's because of laziness or because I've just been in one of those weird places that it's hard to dig myself out of. Either way, I'm back and I'm going to try and go back to letting this be an outlet/distraction/worth while hobby. With all of that out of the way, let's get on with it......

Part of my motivation for finally writing something is that H2O released a new 7 inch two weeks ago, and Skarhead just released a new record. These are both two bands I thoroughly enjoy listening to, so I've been pretty amped for both of these releases. However, they're cover records, which I've been hard pressed to find one that I've enjoyed listening to. Today I'm going to focus on the H2O 7 inch, "California", and tomorrow I'll tackle the Skarhead record, "Dreams Don't Die".

A little background on this record, for those of you who don't know. Along with this 7 inch, H2O is releasing two more (Washington, DC & New York City) as pre-cursors to their upcoming full length cover record, "Don't Forget Your Roots" (release date: 11/15). Each 7 inch has a track that won't be on the full length.

As I said not that long ago, more often than not, I'm not a fan of cover records. They always seem like too much effort was put into doing someone else's songs that could have been put into doing your own tracks. Since I'm not a musician, that's probably ultra-judgmental and me talking out of my ass, but generally they seem like a waste to me. That being said, I've already listened to this 3 track 7 inch about 8 times, and have enjoyed it more and more every time. It kicks off with a the Circle Jerks "Beverly Hills" (this track will not be on DFYR) and it's phenomenal. They're take on one of my favorite Rancid songs, "Journey to the End of the East Bay", is on point. Don't get me wrong, Tim Armstrong is an amazing vocalist, but it's a whole lot easier to understand what Toby is saying. They wrap it up with Social D's "Sick Boy", and once again it's another tight track. In both of the last two tracks they change up the lyrics a little bit, so on the first couple of listen it sounded strange and caught me off guard. However, they work. The new lyrics fit H2O and in the case of "Sick Boy" update the song. I'd definitely recommend trying to get your hands on this 7 inch if you can, but from what I gathered from their Facebook page, there are virtually none left. You might just have to wait for "Don't Forget Your Roots"

1. Beverly Hills (Circle Jerks)
2. Journey to the End of the East Bay (Rancid)
3. Sick Boy (Social Distortion)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Defeater "Dear Father" 2011

Yesterday marked the release of Defeater's "Dear Father" EP. It previews their upcoming full length, "Empty Days & Sleepless Nights". From what the information I found on Bridge Nine's website, "Empty Days & Sleepless Nights" is going to be 10 of the heavy hardcore tracks that Defeater is becoming known for, as well as 4 acoustic tracks.

This whole EP carries on the narrative style of Defeater's other releases. It's difficult for me to say which song I like more. The styles are drastically different. "Dear Father" is the heavier of the two tracks, but the story doesn't get lost in needless guitar riffs or breakdowns. "I Don't Mind" is one of the acoustic tracks, and it's amazing. It's a complete change of pace from "Dear Father", and it works well. The storytelling in both of these tracks is fantastic, and I'm seriously eager for the release of "Empty Days & Sleepless Nights" on March 8th.

Track Listing:
1) Dear Father
2) I Don't Mind

Monday, February 7, 2011

Madball "All or Nothing" Video Premiere

Last week I saw that BlacknBlue Productions posted Madball's new video for their song "All or Nothing" off of Empire. I didn't have a chance to actually watch it until today, and I'm glad I did. "All or Nothing" was definitely one of my favorite songs on the album, and the video doesn't disappoint. Michael Distelkamp and Freddy Madball did a fantastic job with the direction, and the video fits the song perfectly. Vinnie Stigma makes a cameo appearance that works very well. You should definitely check it out.

Click Here To Watch The Video
BlacknBlue Productions in association with Convoy Films

I plan on posting at least 3 more reviews this week, lets see if I stick to it

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wisdom in Chains "Pocono Ghosts" (2011)

Remember a couple of days ago how I said that Wisdom in Chains has a new 7 inch coming out in a month or so on Reaper Records? Well, since then a couple of things have happened. First, Reaper Records finally put up a pre-order. The pre-order is available in a gold or a red vinyl, and the three tracks that are on the record were put up on Stereokiller.com.

While I’m sitting here writing this post, I’m listening to all three songs over and over and over and over. From the second “In Case You Forgot” kicks in, you’ll tell that this isn’t going to be anything but a great fucking listen. The lyrics are amazing. It’s hard to say what exactly the song is about because the lyrics can be interpreted a few ways. That is absolutely NOT a bad thing. Everyone has someone in their lives that they can relate this song to, whether it’s a significant other, a best friend, or children. It’s the type of song that I’ve come to expect from these guys. Meaningful, thought out lyrics with the aggression and intensity that gets the point across without any filler nonsense. “Spit It Back” is just as intense. Again, lyrically it’s a fantastic song, and the driving aggressive guitar riffs mesh well with everything else going on in the song. They finish up the 7 inch with a cover of Motorhead’s song “R.A.M.O.N.E.S.”. While it’s not an original, it was a great choice. I’ve heard the Motorhead version and the version the Ramones actually do of this song, and it’s done justice here. In my opinion it’s a perfect mesh of both versions. Musically it’s got the bouncy punk feeling the Ramones gave it, and Mad Joe’s vocals capture the grit of Lemmy.

To say that I’m excited about this 7 inch would be an understatement. Since the very first time I saw Wisdom in Chains a couple years ago with Sick of It All at “The Church” in Philadelphia, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to them. Add to that the fact that they are all great guys, it was a forgone conclusion that I would be buying this as soon as possible. Getting to listen to it before it’s released is sending me completely into “fan-boy” mode.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Deviates "My Life" (1998) and "Time Is the Distance" (2001)

Here's a band that showed a lot of promise and disappeared with almost no notice. I suppose, you know, two albums, that's more than most hc/punk bands put out, so that's all right--but both albums are so good, it's just too bad they didn't stick around long enough to put out a third.

The Deviates, from southern California, put out their first record, "My Life," on Theologian Records, in 1998. Produced by Fletcher Dragge of Pennywise, it's sixteen fast songs, two minutes each on average, with lots of great riffs and very melodic choruses. "My Life," "One Day," "Classes," "I Remember," and "Land of Opportunities," are among the best tunes on the album, but really, they're all great, with the small exception of "Who's Johnny," which has such ridiculous lyrics, the music is somewhat overshadowed. Everything else, though, lyrically and musically, is fast, intense, and fun. A lot of their songs tell stories too; I like when bands do that.

Their second album, "Time Is the Distance," came out on Epitaph three years later, and it took me a little while to get into it, but once I did, and realized what a good record it was, I started listening to it even more than "My Life." The album features a very slick recording sound, which turned me off at first. Forgive the cliche, but there's something really cool about the "raw" sound of "My Life."

"Time Is the Distance" is good in other ways, though. It continues the storytelling style of the first album, and is much darker and moodier than "My Life." But that in no way means it's slower. They continue their style of fast, melodic hardcore, but there's something much more pessimistic about the album's lyrics. Kinda makes you wonder what happened to them, or to their singer anyway, in the three years between records. Standout tracks are "Come With Me," "Right Back To You," and "So I Become," but again, they're all good, with the exception of "My Crime," a lyrical misfire about how the singer likes to curse, and people shouldn't give him a hard time about it. Uh-huh. . . . Otherwise, great album.

I saw these guys a few times when they were together, and was disappointed to hear they'd broken up. I don't recall any kind of announcement; I just went on their site one day and saw that they'd thrown in the towel. It would have been interesting to see how they'd further develop their sound with a third album, but it was not to be. Check em out; definitely one of the more impressive, and rarely talked about, SoCal punk bands to come out of the late 90's/early 00's scene.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Supertouch "Lost My Way" (2011)

Today marked the release of Supertouch’s 7 inch, “Lost My Way”, on Reaper Records. I won’t sit here and pretend that I’m a big Supertouch fan, because I’m not. I’ve had the opportunity to listen to it a bunch of times, and my opinion on it is that it’s a good record. The songs are well written lyrically and musically, but I’m not real sure what the big deal is. I’ve listened to “The Earth is Flat” a whole lot, and “Lost My Way” isn’t as heavy. We’ll get back to this in a second. The title track, “Lost My Way” is in my opinion the best on the 7 inch, but just like the others it sounds like an indie rock track instead of a hardcore track. I’ve been confused as to how Supertouch is classified as hardcore. When I saw them at the Black and Blue Bowl last year, and then with listening to “The Earth is Flat” and now “Lost My Way”, I’m even more confused. Maybe one of you that actually reads this blog can fill me in, because especially now, I feel like they’re an indie rock band. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to this, it’s definitely worth listening to. I just don’t see it as a hardcore record. Let me know what you think.

Track Listing:
1. Get On Get On
2. Just These Days
3. Lost My Way
4. Now That You're Far From Home