After 20 years of fronting well known punk rock act No Use For A Name (NUFAN), Tony Sly continues his passion for music with a different approach by releasing his first full-length solo album. Last month 12 Song Program dropped thanks to Fat Wreck Chords who have been associated with Sly for most of his career.
Having teamed up with Joey Cape on the 2004 split release Acoustic this is not a new territory for the seasoned punk rocker but is something that he has wanted to do for a couple of years now. Writing songs in the past that did not fit the NUFAN slot, Sly took recent down time from his band and started recording original material that ranges from folk to pop all with help from his trusty acoustic guitar.
Not going at it all alone on the album Sly received some help from other Fat Wreck musicians/friends including Fat Wreck owner himself Fat Mike as well as Dance Hall Crashers’ Karina Denike who lent her vocals to many of the tracks. The more mature approach was stripped down and not over produced full of many songs that would be perfect for an unplugged show at a local bar. With sing along qualities and in depth lyricism this album has a repeat playability written all over it.
Opening track “Capo, 4th Fret” brought back memories of my obsession I had when I first heard the split album with Sly on his acoustic guitar. The track emulates that of a NUFAN song but of course slowed down and more personable with Sly almost giving reason why he is doing what he does. “I would live for the sake of others so they could do the same” finished the very lonesome track.
The more upbeat “Via Munich” carried along happy tune about feel good relationship while away. Quick and to the point, the track featured Swingin’ Utters‘ Darius Koski on violin. “The Shortest Pier” jumped back to a miserable feeling of hopelessness. “AM”, featuring Fat Mike, was one of the songs that stuck in my mind after hearing it. The song strayed away from sounding like the other tracks on the album with Sly singing at perhaps his most sincere.
“Expired” was an acoustic plucking jam that easily could aid in a drinking problem. Denike’s beautiful voice matched up with Sly’s towards the end followed by a sample taking from Taking Arizona all surrounded with piano. This was one of those tracks that deserved another listen immediately.
“Keira” was a likable whisper of a lullaby written by Sly for his daughter. “Toaster In The Bathtub” was full of witty comparisons to assist in cheering up a certain someone. This is one of those songs that is best sung with friends loudly whether Sly himself plays it or if it pops up on the jukebox.
“Love, Sick Love” was another choice track of mine on the album even if it was about going different ways. I could not tell if it was a flute or an organ but whatever instrument was used in the background just kept a certain chill throughout the song with Sly and Denike’s singing. The lyric in the song “putting out a fire with a flamethrower is strange” might be one analogy I should reference to more often.
Joey Cape helps Sly with vocals on “Amends” and as good as it sounded I was so disappointed with how quick the track was. At just over 2 minutes I was kind of hoping for a more extended cut of this track as I love hearing the two sing together. Honestly thinking about it, that would be my only complaint with the entire album; it was too short.
Closing song “Fireball” showcased Sly singing his loudest and perhaps most heartfelt over the other tracks. The sad song reflected hardship on someone who clearing was without home and had a void in their heart. The singing matched with the heavy strummed acoustic guitar playing made for one powerful song. If only there were more tracks on the album to keep that momentum going.
If you were a fan of the Sly/Cape split Acoustic, you will be a fan of 12 Song Program but if you are looking for an extension of NUFAN chances are you will not appreciate this album one bit. It is a punk rocker making music but to a different caliber.
Sometimes punk rockers who grow up trade in their beat up electric guitars and mellow out for a good reason. It’s not because they are giving up, it’s because they refuse to quit on all the talent they are capable of even if it means slowing down a bit. Case and point with Tony Sly who dropped a really great release start to finish. One needs to remind themselves that this is a personal Sly project full of his likable melodies and will rub off a little more unique than when he is with his band that finds a name not that important.
03/20/10 Austin, TX – SXSW Music Festival w/ Riverboat Gamblers, Teenage Bottlerocket, Cokie The Clown, Dead To Me, Smoke Or Fire, Banner Pilot, Cobra Skulls
04/21/10 Eugene, OR – McDonald Theater w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
04/22/10 Spokane, WA – Knitting Factory w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
04/23/10 Billings, MT – Shrine Auditorium w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
04/25/10 Saskatoon, SK Canada – Odeon Events Center w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket ****SOLD OUT****
04/26/10 Winnipeg, MB Canada – Burton Cummings Theater w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket ****SOLD OUT****
04/27/10 Fargo, ND – The Venue w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
04/29/10 Milwaukee, WI – The Riverside Theater w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
04/30/10 Covington, KY – Madison Theater w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
05/01/10 Sauget , IL – Pop’s w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
05/02/10 Kansas City, MO – The Beaumont w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
05/04/10 Fort Collins, CO – The Aggie w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
05/05/10 Albuquerque, NM – The Sunshine Theater w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
05/06/10 Tucson, AZ – Rialto Theatre w/ NOFX, Teenage Bottlerocket
05/07/10 Las Vegas, NV – Sunset Station Amphitheatre – PUNK ROCK BOWLING w/ NOFX Teenage Bottlerocket, Fucked Up, Youth Brigade, Guilty By Association
05/19/10 Perth, Australia – Amplifier w/ Joey Cape
05/20/10 Adelaide, Australia – Fowlers Live w/ Joey Cape
05/21/10 Hobart, Australia – The Brisbane Hotel w/ Joey Cape
05/22/10 Melbourne, Australia – Corner Hotel w/ Joey Cape
05/23/10 Wollongong, Australia – Uni Bar w/ Joey Cape
05/26/10 Sydney, Australia – Annandale Hotel w/ Joey Cape
05/27/10 New Castle, Australia – Cambridge Hotel w/ Joey Cape
05/28/10 Caloundra, Australia – Kings Beach Tavern w/ Joey Cape
05/29/10 Brisbane, Australia – The Zoo w/ Joey Cape
06/02/10 Wellington, New Zealand – Bar Bodega w/ Joey Cape
06/03/10 Auckland, New Zealand – Thirsty Dog w/ Joey Cape