Did you know All released nine albums? Nine! Of course you didn’t. You probably have never heard of All. You might have heard of the band that preceded them, The Descendents, but probably only from seeing their T-shirts.
So here’s the deal with this album. It totally reminds me of Green Day from their pre-Dookie days where they were super freaking catchy but for some reason apparently nobody likes super catchy guitar songs in 1992? Like, what gives? What do you have to do besides be objectively awesome?
But the thing that sets these guys apart from Green Day is that there’s no consistency to the album. Apparently all four guys wrote songs for the record, and it shows. After starting with the almost hardcore rhythms of “Charligan” that would basically turn off almost everybody who would enjoy the rest of the album, they go really strong for six tracks or so before faltering. They kind of get a little wobbly after that with the cynical rejection of pop culture (such an easy target, guys), “Empty,” and then on to the kind of jokey “Mo. 63,” about the band’s relocation to Brookfield, Missouri (seriously). Then they nail it with “Egg Timer,” a crazy amazing song made even more amazing by the son-to-father lyrics. And then things just totally fall apart with a song that’s basically a guy tuning his guitar and running through some Guitar Center riffs (never ever ever go from the best song on your album into the worst song), then a jokey Spinal Tap song (“Hotplate”) and then a taunt at one of their roadies, the band trying to keep him awake. Finally they finish with the very good “Breathe,” but really, “Egg Timer” is the better way to end this thing and the final four songs just feel like weird bonus tracks on the European version.
A note about “Hotplate,” though. It’s jokey, making fun of 80’s heavy metal, but it achieves the rare combination of being really funny and cheesy but also kind of awesome.
Finally, I hate the phrase, “[musician X] is a God,” but good Lord after listening to Bill Stevenson just kill it on this album (try “Wonder” or “Birds” on for size), I’m beginning to rethink my objections to that template. He’s a ridiculous talent and I can’t believe you haven’t heard of him. How dare you.
Mix: “Wonder,” “Minute,” “Egg Timer”
Really Like: “Nothin’,” “Dot”
Like: “Nobody’s,” “Mo. 63,” “Hotplate,” “Breathe”
Meh: “Empty,” “Hey Bug”
Dislike: “Charligan,” “Gungear (Mix)”
Filed Between: Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah (Lake Shore Drive) and AP.100.CD, an Alternative Press “The First 100 Issues” compilation CD
Song Notes: After the jump
- Charligan – This is a really tough start. I think I might actually like it in a different context, but its kind of hardcore vibe doesn’t fit with the rest of this album and is certainly not a good way to start things off
- Nothin’ – “I’m a phase that you’ve outgrown”
- Dot – the single
- Nobody’s – heavy, dark, minor. About environment? or war? both.
- Wonder – Love the bass. And the drums…of course the drums
- Minute – 87 seconds. Very Green Day
- Birds – Bill Stevenson good god.
- Empty – it’s okay. it’s just so facile. It’s so easy to attack popular culture. I mean, god, looking back this was prescient but also just futile because it wasn’t even prescient it’s just that things got worse
- Mo. 63 – so perfect that he pronounces it “missourah”
- Egg Timer – amazing
- Gnugear (Mix) – things get weird from here on out. It’s almost like “Egg Timer” should have closed things out
- Hotplate – “Of course I’m on the menu” << so funny; every time I laugh
- Hey Bug – I guess one of their roadies had the nickname “Bug”
- Breathe – very good, back to good songs after three weird songs