Posted on February 8, 2010 - by Editor
Heart and Skull
The powerful opening guitar riffs to the Chicago’s trios seventh studio album is a signal of intent on the title track “This Addiction” with the recognisable Matt Skiba vocals bringing in the theme of drugs (heroin) and its comparison to love and relationships a positive start.
Much has been written and said about this release and the opinions seem to vary widely with Skiba himself acknowledging the bands intention to go back to their punk rock roots with a “less is more” approach under the trusted guidance of producer Matt Allison at Atlas studios where they had recorded much of their early material including their first two albums, 1998’s “Goddamnit” and 2000’s “Maybe I’ll Catch Fire”.
There is obvious musical evolution and growth from their earlier albums, and this should not be ignored and although their sound is inspired by those earlier recordings there is still some texture and diversity on the record, most notably the horns on “Lead Poisoning” and the synth heard on “Eating Me Alive” adding a uplifting light on the band’s gothic dark style.
The band essentially still delivers a dark and brooding collection of songs, and yes it’s pop and perhaps not edgy musically but lyrically still dancing with themes you won’t hear on commercial radio and really staying true to the calling card as a band.
The split of vocals with Dan Adriano taking the leads on three tracks also adds a balanced dimension to the record and he dares to overshadow Skiba in the vocal department especially on album closer “Fine”.
On the lyrical issue, they stray into politics with “The American Scream,” Skiba’s words were inspired after reading an article about an American soldier who killed himself after returning from Afghanistan. (blowing his head off over his mothers own grave), but the album is also far more personal and the themes of addressing themes such as love, addiction, death, divorce, grief, are a collection of the trios personal lives over recent years.
I have read that this record will have a polarisation effect on the bands fans, and it’s very easy to criticise their attempt to step back in terms of inspiration without compromising musical intent and growth or copping the easy label of sell out, but for me although it’s not their finest record, it’s a step in the right direction and should entice trusted fans and appeal to new alike.
12 Song Program
Fat Wreck Chords
For over two decades Sly has carved out a name for himself as the front man for No Use For A Name. Although the trend of late seems to indicate a number of musicians/artists trying their hand at a solo effort, Sly admits he should maybe have started this venture a number of years ago.
He has also admittedly drawn from influences “like the Beatles, Bob Dylan and David Bowie as opposed to my usual old punk influences like Bad Religion,” and he has enlisted the help of friends such as NOFX’s Fat Mike, Swingin Utter’s Darius Koski, Lagwagon’s Joey Cape and Dance Hall Crashers’ Karina Deniké who all add their own individual merits and subtleties to the record. It is a well produced record, with some textured layers which will make the live offerings of these songs interesting but at their core is Sly’s soothing voice and his acoustic guitar.
This is a eclectic and personal collection of songs, some of which you might very well find creeping into a No Use interlude but it is a different offering from the band and does highlight his song writing skills, with more complex but beautiful ballads like “The Shortest Pier” followed by acoustic ‘Already Won’, and the moody, almost brooding, journey carries through till the records end to showcase a non clichéd but emotional offering.
At times the record is reminiscent of Vic Ruggieros (of The Slackers) solo output, not in musical style, but the feeling of being locked in the singers mind and him guiding you through the lyrical content and themes at ease while peeling away some of the personal layers.
‘Keira’ is a personal favourite, but the powerful ‘Toaster In The Bathtub’, clever and soulful and full of lyrical juxtapositions, will I think be a live crowd-pleaser. I also like the subtle but well placed female backing that Karina adds on ‘Love, Sick Love’ & Joey Cape adds his recognisable lungs to ‘Amends’ and the two friends combine nicely on this track and it’s the perfect song for the duo.
There is no doubt more to come from Tony Sly, and his experienced hand and mature approach to this record will put him in good stead for solo tours and material when the band is not in full motion. Record closer ‘Fireball’ is a powerful parting song, and I can’t wait to see these tracks played live stripped further bare from the production room environment and with barroom crowds in full supporting voice.
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