Friday, January 21, 2011

Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes - Social Distortion (Review)

I have been waiting for this album since about a year ago when I saw Social Distortion for the first time in concert. They played about four songs off of this album if I remember correctly. I was amazed at how good they sounded. Since than, I could not think about anything else besides having this CD in my hand. This album turned out to be a fun heart-filled album with some true soul put into it.

The opener is a song called "Road Zombie". I am pretty sure this is just ment to act as an intro to the album, which it does fantasticly. It is also something more though. This could possibly be the best song on the album. It has the same aggressive sound as their first album "Mommy's Little Monster" and the sound of  "White Light White Heat White Trash".

The next one is a full on rock n' roll song. It is called "California (Hustle And Flow)". It is much more rock n' roll than their earlier punk music. It will also appeal to fans of soul music too. It has wonderfull back-up vocals. No work of brilliance here, just a fun rockin' song. (Social Distortion fans should be used to rockin' songs like this now!)

Now for one of my personal favorites. This one is called "Gimme The Sweet And Lowdown". The chorus brings a very new sound to Social Distortion's usual music. In all honesty, the chorus doesn't sound much like them, but it is very catchy either way. Besides the chorus, it sounds just like any other Social Distortion song to me. The chorus is where it really shines.

After my first listen of the album, one of the only songs that stuck in my head for hours after is "Diamond In The Rough". This is a very nice song. In my opinion, it sounds a lot like the kind of music that Sex, Love, and Rock N' Roll consisted of. It is one of the essesntials on the album. I believe this song has been played live many times before, and has been a fan favorite years before this album. I never heard of it before this album though, so boy am I happy they added it! I understand the love for this song. It is very catchy and if your taste is anything like mine, it will be in your head for the next few days.

The first single off of this album is "Machine Gun Blues". This is one of the low points on the album for me. It is kind of odd they chose this as the first single considering there is a lot more radio-friendly music on this album (see "Far Side Of Nowhere" or "Gimme The Sweet And Lowdown"). This song is not awful by no means, it just doesn't stand out. It has the same vibe as "Road Zombie" (the old-school harder material),but it doesn't even come close to reaching the highs "Road Zombie" did.

"Bakersfield"...What a bore! Well, we all know on every album, we find at least one piece of garbage. This album has two. This is the first. "Bakersfield" drags for a long six and a half minutes. The only part that stands out AT ALL is the spoken word segment that occurs with a about two minutes left. That's all I have to say about this song.

After that comes "Far Side Of Nowhere". This is probably the closest thing Social Distortion has to pop music. I could totally picture this coming on your local alternative radio station. By pop, I by no means mean bad, i just mean it will probably be praised by casual listeners.

Next song is "Alone And Forsaken". I believe this song is a cover. I don't know much about this song, so I'll have little to write about. What I will say is that I enjoy listening to this song a lot. It is a very dark and sinister sounding song. It makes for a good listen every time.

The song after that is "Writing On The Wall". This is a slower and softer song which opens with a nice little piano riff. This is one song on the album where Mike Ness's song writing skills shine. The lyrics in this song stand out a lot more than the other songs. I'd say this is another essential from this album.

And now for the second bummer of the album. "Can't Take It With You" is the second piece of garbage on this album. Unlike "Bakersfield" though, this song has absolutly NO highlights which makes these five minutes the worst on the album in my opinion. I guess the soul singers in the background are pretty interesting, but they don't really add much. Whew!!! Glad I got that over with!

The closure of this album is a song called "Still Alive". This is one of the songs they played at the concert I went to. I loved this song in concert. It was spectacular. On the album though, it is different. It is still good, just not as good. They have a totally different feeling with it. I believe the over-production is to blame for that. This is a serious case where production takes over the song and ultimatly ruins it. It is still okay. Cool way to close an album, I guess, but still. Production is the biggest killer in the punk rock world.

Overall, this is a good album. It is at some points dissapointing ("Still Alive"), but that doesn't bring the rest of the album down by too much. Every album has to have a few bummers. This is no exception.Although it is amazing how Social Distortion have kept relevant and talented all through their long career. One thing added to this album that was purely amazing is the back-up vocals. They totally exceeded in that aspect. Also something different about this album is the tone of the guitar. It sounds less like a Social Distortion record, and more like a blues record. This was also neat. I'd say overall, I am half pleased, half dissapointed.

Highlights : Road Zombie, Diamond In The Rough, Writing On The Wall

Music : 8 (Pretty refreshing)
Lyrics : 6.5 (Very lazy song writing. "Writing On The Wall" is the best song lyricaly)
Artwork : 6.5 (Cover art is pretty cool. The actual CD and the booklet cover are lame though)

Overall : 7

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