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.

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