Thursday, January 12, 2006

CD Review: Randy The Band

The music you put on in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. Wake up in a bad mood and put on something maudlin like Lou Reed's Berlin and your day might be ruined by depression. Put the Dead Boys on and you might find yourself wanting to beat up the first hippie you see. Fugazi could make you beyond earnest. Talk radio might produce signs of schizophrenia. I've been listening to Randy The Band almost every morning for a month now and the results are always the same: pure happiness. Randy The Band's melodic noise is a regular punk rock Prozac.

Punk rock is old enough now as a sub-genre of a genre that one shouldn't expect anything new or revolutionary out of it. Randy The Band is no exception to this. Once ascertained that the construct hasn't been exploded one is left to just the songs themselves. I'm talking pure American Bandstand "I'll give it an 8 because you can dance to it" analysis. There are some token socialist tracks polluting the waters, but the real joy of this album is in the melodic songs that swim through the consciousness of the listener with an endearing surface buzz. There's some intriguing ideas under the water, but Randy The Band's songwriting chops gives the listener the choice of whether they want to dive to the depths or just enjoy the ride up top.

"Punk Rock High" kicks the album off with a blast. Even if the school of rock idea isn't all that new (cue Yo La Tengo video, Jack Black movie and so on), Randy The Bandy make it sound fresh and fun from the basic Chuck Berry underpinning all the way to the brief snatch of Brian May style guitar. A punk by the numbers song like "Razorblade" is almost as good as the masters, but it's "Better Than Art" which is a minor masterpiece mishmash of influences. There's Rancid on the verses and skinny tie New Wave on the choruses that proclaim "I like music better than art."

"Evil" is a gas with its definite Misfits kickback cool. "Bahnof Zoo" is the catchiest cut on the album with the eternal theme of youth versus their parents. It's timeless pop punk that could fit in any era and there's a special twist beneath the bouncy exterior. It takes its name from the notorious book by Christiane F.: Wir Kinder Von Bahnof Zoo. So basically Randy The Band is saying that kids like to do drugs. There are some rote anthems for punk rock Commies to sink their teeth into along with a speed metal rockabilly foray "Teenage Tiger", but the album falters for most of its second half.

The coda of the song "Promise" signals a return to strength. "The World Is Getting Bored" confirms it with a 2nd verse that lets the major music moguls have it:

The kids these days are fed up with the music industry
They don't care about the product so they download their music on mp3
This is what you get when you get too greedy for too long
The kids don't want your plastic box no more they just want the songs

And in the end the song is about much more than downloading as we hear "Who decided that we have to live like this? Together all alone." It's some nice existential angst to cap off an album with a winning percentage that's around .700.

Randy The Band - "Razorblade"
courtesy Fat Wreck Chords

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