POST- by Jeff Rosenstock (album review)

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(Yeah, it’s pretty good.)

With album releases seeming somewhat far and few between as we enter the new year, I find myself gravitating towards the only album released this year to the point of writing, a little ol’ thing called POST- by Jeff Rosenstock. With no prior knowledge of the man, I was surprised to find a body of work dating back as far as 1998 and involvement in a frankly stunning amount of albums, projects and acts. Rosenstock’s agenda seems fairly clear and there seems a consistent and personal aspect to his continued mindset which implies that the criticisms I have with this latest release are largely due to his personal design. I feel there’s something to be said for one who coins the names “The Arrogant Sons of Bitches” and “Bomb the Music Industry!” and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t very much appreciate his mentality and approach to music. He seems like a somewhat brazen character and this extends towards this latest musical vehicle, and I think that’s why I like it. 

I feel the album suffers from many of the same issues as a great many other albums which follow the musical design of one particular person and the most outstanding of these issues seems to be a somewhat disorienting flow and conflict of ideas. I’d like to say the issues feel redeemed by the creativity on display but this feels somewhat untrue. I will say that it’s a good bit of fun if you’re into that whole Punk thing, but it does sound like a bit of a fucking mess at times. I hugely appreciate the creativity on show throughout the album as a whole and I feel the variety of styles and influences speaks to a remarkable level of creative promise, but there are often times this feels poorly optimised and structural mismanagement often reflects in a manner that makes little to no sense. 

At this point I feel like I’m the only person in the world who actually gives a fuck about fantastic production quality and albums like this seem to ram this feeling deep up my ass with total disregard for my complaints. What I mean to declare with this total lack of eloquence is that this album sounds like shit in terms of the production quality, but I feel this was the personal design of Rosenstock himself and it contributes to a sound highly reminiscent of a DIY Punk/Grunge-esque tone. Still, despite this being his clear intention, I feel it to be fairly unnecessary and I feel a better energy could have been captured with more emphasis on the vocals and the leading instrumentation. I was pretty surprised to hear the addition of synth in places, but I didn’t feel they were really out of place in the album and they seem to fit quite nicely in the mix. The addition of synth also did much to offer originality and creativity to the album and served to draw my focus to the mind of Rosenstock, further securing my personal admiration in the man and his vision. 

The album is a curious amalgamation of a variety of styles and influences and, where many fail to capture the essence of them all, I feel that Rosenstock respects this and addresses this concern with an album that considers the spirit of Punk, Pop Punk and Indie Rock and displays them all in a wonderful light. When you consider the album from a certain perspective and consider the expansive past of Rosenstock, you can really hear the vast experience the man has – though this does little to restrain the adolescent sense of rebellion and identity most prominent in some of the opening tracks. 

I’d happily go on record and say it’s a very enjoyable album with a good, solid track listing, but the production feels so awful it becomes really hard to recommend. I guess if you don’t give a shit about how good the overall sound is and just care about an upbeat energy then you should check it out. I was very divisive on the album to begin with but by the time I reached TV Stars I began to appreciate the feel of the album a lot more. I don’t usually care much for lyrics, but I felt I actually cared about the words of Rosenstock in this album. I think it’s a fun album and if you have an interest in Punk Rock you should give it a whirl. Don’t expect particularly good production quality or displays of instrumental technicality, that’s not what this album is about – but the energy itself is pretty fantastic and it does well to capture the essence of Punk in a very unique and creative way. 

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Trouble Maker – Rancid (album review)

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(promotional art for the Trouble Maker album)

For a long time now I have been a fan of the Punk movement for the fashion, the attitude, the music and what it represents. I personally think the Punk Movement was one of the most important events in musical history and I rarely pass an opportunity to sing its praises. However, in spite of my adoration and respect for the genre, I often find myself over-looking it in a bid for new styles of music. Seeing the release of Trouble Maker, a very recent album by Punk icons, Rancid, I have decided to address this and catch up with a genre I had otherwise left neglected.

Rancid are far from new and unknown, since starting in 1991 they have amassed a large following and are often credited, along with Green Day and The Offspring, for spearheading a resurgence of punk in the mid-90’s. Whilst they may not have achieved the level of mainstream success Green Day enjoyed, they are largely respected by fans of the music for their consistency and a character which largely remains committed to the ideals and attitude of earlier Punk bands from the 70’s and 80’s. Punk has manifested in a number of ways through the years, ranging from the upbeat cheek of The Sex Pistols to the raw brutality of bands such as The Exploited and Rancid have always worn the banner of Ska Punk, shrugging off the hate-fuelled aggression of other bands in favour of a bouncy and upbeat feel of their own.

In spite of my love for the Punk movement, Rancid are one of the key names I have little experience with. I’ve heard a few of their albums in my time, but don’t have anything to really compare this album to – which, following my previous review, may be a positive thing. Generally speaking, I have always gravitated towards the more anger-fuelled Punk bands such as The Exploited, Anti-Nowhere League and Subhumans and as such it feels a change of pace from what I’m used to. This being said, I feel very positive about this album! In a manner similar to the Dubtopia album by Gentleman’s Dub Club, I find myself won over by the positive energy and personality of this newest release. There are a number of more raw and harsh-sounding tracks on this album, but this just appeals to my love of Hardcore Punk and, in my eyes, just carries the banner of what Punk really is.

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(image sourced from Bombshellzine.com)

Punk has always been an inspiration to me and I have always seen such a positive energy to it – especially in the more aggressive-sounding Punk bands. It cries out for you to live your life, live without barriers and screams for you to embrace your character and opinions and I find this as important today as it ever has been. Bands like this encourage this attitude and for that I feel they deserve so much respect. This album is no different – it makes you feel younger, more energetic and, most importantly, it pushes you into living your life. As a criticism, I would argue that the album should be a little bit longer, but the short and sweet approach exists through so much of Punk music and this album isn’t really short enough for this to be too much of a criticism.

I feel there are many parts in this album where the bass seems to carry the music a little as well. The instrumentation isn’t poorly written or performed, it just seems very predictable – but in a genre like this it is hard to avoid that. The instrumentation always seems fine, but I feel the heavily Ska-influenced bass lines give the tracks so much more colour – particularly in tracks such as Beauty of the Pool Hall and Ghost of a Chance. There are times in this album I feel they could use brass instruments, just to truly accent this Ska inspiration and draw a little more character from the album but this seems to serve the simplicity and organic feel of the band.

There’s a lot to recommend this album for and I would heartily do so, but don’t go into it expecting a peaceful and easy-listening experience. There is a wonderful rawness to this album, a glorious Punk-Rock pace and an abundance of character and I think it’s important to remember music like this and the youth and excitement we so easily forget. Albums like this remind me that music can still have heart, passion and energy and it pulls me through when I start to have doubts about music in general. Above all things, however, it reminds me that music can still be fun.