The Living End were a band I became fans from after hearing “End of the world” in a Tony Hawk game (think it was THUG 2) and thought they sounded awesome but yet unlike CKY I never really went hunting about for their other stuff, feeling like if I did it’d be a let down in the end.
Well the idea was thrown out the window went to Fat Bob (a market stall in my local town) and saw this as part of his 3 for £10 offer. Now I felt like blowing some money (in total I spent over £55 that morning on CD’s, Books and DVD’s) and thought why not, it’s cheap enough to take a risk on even if it turns out to be total garbage I’m not wasting much.
The band are an Australian trio consisting of Chris Cheney (vocals, guitar), Scott Owen (double bass, vocals) and Andy Strachan (drums) and have their music deeply rooted in punk. The band were first formed in 1994, between Cheney and Owen with Andy being the last of the bands drummer after they went through a procession of them in the intervening time.
The band reached a huge status in their homeland with the release of “Second Solution / Prisoner of Society” (in 1997) which was the highest selling Australian release of the 1990’s spending a recording breaking 49 weeks in the top 50. On the back of that the band released their self titled debut album which is currently the third highest selling debut in Australian music history
This is their fifth studio release after with the others listed (and sales with chart positions):
1998: The Living End
AUS: #1 (5x Platinum)
2000: Roll On
AUS: #8 (2x Platinum)
2003: Modern Artillery
AUS: #3 (Platinum)
2006: State of Emergency
AUS: #1 (2x Platinum)
2008: White Noise
AUS: #2 (Platinum)
The track that had first got me into the band was from “Modern Artillery” and had a high paced punk sound to it, but was incredibly tight musically and lyrically. Somewhat similar to what a truely talented Greenday would sound like. Which is quite ironic as it was the sending of a demo to Billie Joe Armstrong that helped lead to the bands big break. Though with the fast punk sound I knew it was a possibilty that this album would sound relatively terrible and that “The End Of The World” was a one off…but still I’m listening to it now.
The album was recorded in Byron Bay in the New South Wales area of Australia and with the albums artwork was completed in 2005 for releases in Q1 of 2006 with releases in February in Australia and New Zealand and May in Japan. The USA got it in summer of 2006 and yet I cant find the details of the UK release.
The album spawned the singles “”What’s on Your Radio?” ” and “Wake Up” (which reached #5 in the Australian charts) . And was also released with a DVD bonus disk and on very limited release Vinyl.
The album starts with “‘Til the end” which after a listen through to the album is my favourite song which is catchy, fast and high tempo’d punk pop. Though not the garbage punk pop we seemed to have been fed by bands like Sum 41 but actually sounds musically tight lyrically wonderful, as well as having a chorus thats undoubtably catchy, a rythym thats toe tappingly hypnotic and overall fantastic. If you like punk, pop punk or music as a whole you will almost certainly recognise how brilliant this track is, and what a way to start an album the guys did.
“Long live the weekend” follows and keeps the fast paced music and starts with a more anti-establishment lyric but yet is equally as wonderfully hypnotic even if it is less vocally catchy. The song sounds perhaps a notch too fast for it’s own good but yet thats only because they seem to be crushing the brilliance of their own work by trying too cram too much into too little time (the tracks less than 3 minutes).
“No Way out” takes a slightly slower opening and is a much slower song over all that takes the break neck speed of the previous song and turns it into what seems effectively a punk balled if you will. A more british-indie sounding song than the previous two, and quite reminiscent musically to bands like Stereophonics as far as I’m concerned. A good change in pace and at the right tim in the album to be honest, as three hard hitting tracks in a row is often 1 too many, though saying this, the track does speed up near the end.
“We want More” is the fourth track and goes to the more basic pop punk formula but yet don’t fall into the usual trap of “lets scream things and people will listen”. The vocals are surprisingly clear and well sung above the brilliantly head banging backing track, and with the lyrics being thought provoking and clever as well as having excellent flow and meter the song is a highlight on the album
“wake up” is started with a slow delibrate guitar long before the drums kicking in to form the two building blocks for which Cheney’s vocals can walk brilliantly over with another vocally slower song that pierces the listeners ears with pleasure. You can almost imagine a band like Greenday recording this…badly. As the track really does just hit home with things that don’t drop from excellence, if there was such a thing as prog-punk I think this would fit squarely into that.
“Whats on your radio?” Starts with the break neck ferocity of many of the previous tracks and has the catchy chorus that can be picked up easily on the first listen. Though sadly the catchyness of the chorus could also be the songs biggest downfall as it makes the song slightly repeptitive and predictable, though with it being released as a single this may well have been the intention.
“Nothing lasts forever” is the longest song on the album at just shy of 5 minutes and takes a clever lyrical approach to telling the story of a male character. The song could well fall into a sort of indie type category for the vocal and musical stylings of it, and sounds a bit like what Arctic Monkeys should have tried to re-create in their second album which seemed to lack the clever fast paced indie rock sound that this track re-creates perfectly.
“One Step Behind” takes another slower start to the track and again a smart lyrical approach to the song. The lyrics have a great rhyme scheme and the delivery of them is again head banginly good, and yet much slower than many of the other tracks on the album which shows how good the band are. The track sounds a bit like Akaline Trio in the fast alternative rock sort of genre as opposed to actual punk.
“Reborn” goes to a darker sound which starts quite poorly in comparision to the rest of the album, but soon gets up to the pace of the rest of the album with the chorus espcially brilliant. The song feels relatively like it’s in the position of wanting to be a slower punk song, yet still holds it’s self as too close to the fast roots of the song to be slow. Oddly my mother (who walked into the room whilst this was playing) described it as sounding “lively” which to be honest it is.
“Order of the day” starts with a very Adam Ants “Prince Charming” feel with the solid drums sounding almost like a direct take, before the vocals cut in. A lyrical base on guilt again supplied with gusto by Cheney who’s delivery never seems to be short of perfection. The track goes a little bit “odd” and seems to take on a dreamy sound mid way through and sounds a little bit “Pink Floyd” (Brain Damage) in parts which is totally different to everything else on the disk.
“Nowhere town” takes a more heavy hitting punk sound to start with the vocals clear and loud, standing above the music as opposed to on it for once.The excellent chrous is again mind blowingly addictive, the Living End are producing musical Cocaine I tell you. The track like many of the others have got me toe tapping as I’m writing which is always a good sign as far as I’m concerned.
“State Of Emergency” the title track comes in bizarrely 12th on the track listing the song goes back to the fast pased approach of many of the earlier tracks the track is brilliant through out though the bridge really does stand out as the tracks best part, which is often something that goes un-talked about from the rest of the album where the chrous has been the dominant part.
“Black cat” the only track listed by Windows Media Player as having Scott Owen creditted with composing the track with cheney (the rest are all Cheney). And the song has a totally different vocal to the rest (I’m guessing they are Owens vocals), though the music is the same hard hitting fast punk that the band are surely used to using (as it’s been the dominant sound of the album). Black cat is lyrically not one of my favourites nor is the vocal as good as the rest of the album, but by no means is it a poor track, and far from it, it’s just the poorest track on the album so far due to the impeccable standards of the rest of them.
“Into the red” starts with the brilliant line “Into the red the hippie dream is dead”, and comes across as sounding like the Ramones with more fast paced guitar based punk that has the lyrical anger that at times was missing (despite the rest of the songs being brilliant they were perhaps a little to musical based for true punkers). The song makes a fine ending to the album and almost seems like a total musical tribute to the great punk bands of the past like MC5 and the aforementioned Ramones.
Overall..Well I aren’t disappointed, the album has some brilliant stand outs among an album so full of high calibre tracks that theres very little to fault. A decent length of the album (around 51 minuites) much based in high octane head banging punk leads to a brilliantly composed piece which has made me tempted to try and pick up their other releases.
Added to the disk is an art book with band photographs and the lyrics, which I always like to see, so make a welcome addition and eomplete a really excellent package by the Australian sensations.