Album Review: Alkaline Trio – Damnesia

Punk rockers Alkaline Trio (AK3) recently dropped a mostly-acoustic, sort-of-best-of-album entitled Damnesia on their very own label Heart&Skull.  The album, that was also released on Epitaph Records, contains seletions from previous releases from the band’s career  as well as two brand new songs.  If you recall, AK3 already took a stab at releasing some acoustic tracks as seen on last year’s deluxe version of This Addiction.  This time though, the band had a reason to dig into their catalog.

Marking their 15 year anniversary, the band saw it best to celebrate their success by putting together an album for the fans.  The result is a nice twist at classic songs with some of the re-recorded acoustic / semi-unplugged versions sounding better than the original cuts.

“Calling All Skeletons” started off the 15-track album, sounded well, but just was not overly impressive.  “Nose Over Tail”, originally found as a b-side from the “Sundials” single, on the other hand was awesome.  I loved that they re-recorded such a great track and it sounded better to me than the original thanks to  Skiba’s vocals sounding  so personal and heartfelt.

The pianos throughout  “This Could Be Love” was a nice touch.  A bit gloomier this round, the track was a tad slowed down which was fine by this listener.  “Calvicle” kept things moving with a speedy acoustic jam.  “Mercy Me” almost sounded rejuvenated with its rebirth into the un-plugged world.

“The American Scream” started with a duo of Skiba and piano playing.  I have to admit I enjoyed this version a lot.  I loved when the rest of the band kicked in and started playing / singing along.  “We’ve Had Enough” continued impressing me.  There was just something about this version that made me tap my foot a little harder to the ground while listening to.

One of the two new tracks, “Olde English 800” was an awesome tribute to a iconic malt beverage.  The sing-a-long had me craving for a 40oz. or two by the time it was over.  Comedic?  Perhaps…  Sincere?  Absolutely.  Am I going to have a hangover tomorrow?  That is has not been determined yet.  All in all, great love song for a top-notch beverage.

AK3 covering The Violent Femmes was not overly impressive to me, but it was nice see them choose “I Held Her In My Arms” over other overly-covered Femmes songs.  It was not terrible to listen to at all, it was just not something I was really looking to listen to although I appreciated the light twang feel to it.  Then again I never was the biggest Femmes fan.

“I Remember A Rooftop” was the other new track on Damnesia and was a lot more serious than the O.E. 800 song.  Andriano took over singing duties this round on the acoustic guitar only track. With lyrics like “I took my lousy shot at public recognition” the lyrics clearly were a little darker, something this beloved band has never been afraid to dish out. 

The very Dexter Morgan describing “Private Eye” was another nice surprise to find on this album.  A great version of “Radio” closed out the album.  Once again, the singing sounded just a little more personal and meaningful on this track.  I really enjoyed it a lot. 

A lot of times when I hear that bands are going to take songs and re-record them in an acoustic manner I am usually not overly excited about it, sans Unwritten Law’s Music In High Places.  AK3 nailed it though with Damnesia.  The album takes a nice detour from the punk rock path and brings you to just a nice chill (chilling?) listen many punk rock and non-punk rock fans will enjoy. 

Does recording an acoustic album mean the band has slowed down (not trying to knock anyone)?  Well, perhaps in some cases for some bands, but I doubt AK3 has any means to take it down a notch anytime soon.  This was a nice novel idea for the fans from the band that has been kicking it for a decade and a half.  Look for AK3 to be touring this summer in support of the new release as well as means to continue to celebrate their 15 years as a punk rock act. 

Andriano had this to say about the tour:

“We’re looking forward to our 15th anniversary tour this summer. We’re going to really try to put together a set that encompasses everything the band has done over the past 15 years and plan to play some songs that rarely find their way in to the set list. We will also play some songs in an unplugged style similar to what we’ve recently recorded on Damnesia. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

AK3 will be playing at the House Of Blues in Cleveland on Aug. 8th.  The Smoking Popes (stoked about this act!!!) and River City Extension will provide as openers.  This is going to be a kick ass show.

Wagons Return To Cleveland!!!

I just learned today that Melbourne, Australia’s  Wagons will be returning to the states this September!  After missing my chance to see Henry Wagons and his band at SXSW, the band announced that they will be back in the US touring in support of their soon to be released album Rumble, Shake and Tumble. They are even making a stop in Cleveland on Sept. 11th at the Beachland Tavern.

I caught Henry playing a solo last year when he opened for Those Darlins at the Beachland Tavern and I became an instant fan.  He told me later that night that he could not wait to bring the rest of his band back to the states and started telling me about all the American food he was digging.  He was a funny and genuine guy.  If you like your music a little bit of country rock a’la Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings and are just looking to be rowdy and have fun, you should not miss this show.

Check out the video for “I Blew It” off of their album that should be dropping on August 16th:

I plan on not missing this show.  Of course this will be taking place the day after Warrior Dash which I have decided to attempt…  I think I will be fine…

What the hell am I thinking??? Stay tuned for the results on that one.

Ten Things Mike Doughty Would Like You To Know About His New Album

Mike Doughty has a new album coming out on August 30th called Yes And Also Yes.  The man, known for his lead in the now defunct Soul Coughing, continues his quest to entertain the masses one clever song after another.

There is still some time before the album drops, but Doughty wants everyone to know some things about his album.  Ten things to be exact:

TEN THINGS MIKE DOUGHTY WOULD LIKE YOU TO KNOW ABOUT HIS NEW ALBUM…

# 1 “The title, YES AND ALSO YES was the headline of my profile on an online dating site. I improvised it off the top of my head, because they wouldn’t let me post until I wrote a headline. I was unsuccessful at online dating”

# 2 “The first single, “NA NA NOTHING”, was partially stolen from a song written by Nikki Sixx, Dan Wilson (wrote “Closing Time”), and Matt Gerrard (wrote a bunch of tunes in “High School Musical.”) (I got their permission to steal it)”

# 3 “Holiday,” a Christmas song, is a duet with Rosanne Cash. I did a show with her, and she said, onstage, “I feel nervous playing my new songs, because Mike Doughty is here, and he’s such a great songwriter.” That BLEW MY MIND.

# 4 “The song “Into the Un” was written for, and rejected by the Twilight soundtrack. (It’s about goth kids on LSD in a train station)”

# 5 “I recorded it in a studio in Koreatown, Manhattan, from July ’10 to April ’11. Pat Dillett produced. Notable musicians included my trusty factotum Andrew “Scrap” Livingston on bass, and the pianist Thomas Bartlett, aka Doveman, who basically plays with everybody who’s groovy (Justin Bond, Antony and the Johnsons, Glen Hansard, the National, David Byrne, Yoko Ono). I’m releasing it on my own label, SNACK BAR, through Megaforce. I split with Dave Matthews’ label ATO so I could run my own shop and have more control, business-wise.”

# 6 “I wrote most of the songs at the legendary artists’ colony Yaddo, where Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, James Baldwin, Truman Capote, Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, Sylvia Plath, and a lot of other all-time giants worked. It was founded by a railroad tycoon’s wife, in her mansion, built in the 1890s. They put up artists for a month or two, feed them in an opulent dining room, and give them space and time to work.”

# 7 “I used a capsule of the antidepressant duloxetine as a percussion instrument on some tracks. I held the tiny pill between my thumb and forefinger, put it close to the mic and shook it so it made a shcka-shcka-shcka! sound.”

# 8 “I wrote a book about my ugly, drug-doing years called THE BOOK OF DRUGS. It’s coming out in 2012 on Da Capo/Perseus.”

# 9 “The song “Makelloser Mann” is in German”

# 10 “I play a Chinese lute (called a zhong ruan) on the song “Telegenic Exes #1”

# 10.5 “…in the liner notes, I say I exclusively wear Paul Smith suits and Sol Moscot eyeglasses, and eat only gummi bears made by Haribo. I did this because I hope they’ll send me free stuff…”

I have yet to hear anything off his new release (and am very curious to hear the duet with Cash), but if it is any thing like his previous releases, I know it is going to rule.

Look for Doughty to be touring this fall in support of his new release.  He is even making a stop in Cleveland.  Nov. 13th at the Beachland Ballroom.  Get your tickets now!

Watch This: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears “Mustang Ranch” Video

Have you even heard of Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears yet?

Watch this video they just dropped for “Mustang Ranch” and become a fan already!!!

As if the song was not hilarious enough, the video just makes it that much more entertaining. “Mustang Ranch” is off of Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears latest album Scandalous. The album is out now and if you liked that song, boy are you in for a treat.

What? You want another? Sure, why not: