Friday, July 13, 2012

Fuck Society Volume 1
Mauled By Tigers [2012]

I’d like to begin with some confessions, if I may. 1. I knew nothing about Shellshag going into this review, and still know very little; I place their sound somewhere between Crimpshrine and some forgotten 90’s Sympathy/Estrus garage band. 2. I hated this record the first couple times I listened to it. And 3. I’ve come to terms with the fact that something about my perception of music has changed, perhaps it’s come with age, but I can no longer enjoy (most) dirty, poorly recorded punk music the way I may have 15 years ago. That being said, somehow this record hopped the fence of my ribcage and squatted in my heart, kind of. Fuck Society Volume 1 (bit of an oxymoron, I feel like nihilism doesn’t come in installments) is a collection of messily performed cover songs that (eventually) comes across as more of a love letter to music in general than a proper release. We’ll begin with THE GOOD: The first side of this LP contains most of what works – a less than stellar yet endearing cover INXS’s Don’t Change (one of the best pop songs ever written, in my semi-professional opinion), a very intriguing version of Hickey’s Stupid Sun, and a frantic and surprisingly well done rendition of Warsaw/Joy Division’s The Drawback. THE BAD: Pretty much all of side B - the poor recording does nothing for covers of The Jam, Descendents, and Wipers, though the Fleshies cut is decent. Possibly the strangest moment here is the inclusion of the original recording of AK77’s Fuck Society for which the album was titled. It’s not a bad song (the chorus of fuck society! fuck sobriety! fuck everybody! is particularly entrancing) but it just feels out of place. THE UGLY: Quite literally the album cover, it’s my biggest issue with this record. On the front and back cover they list the songs and under each is a small blurb regarding why it was included, this personal touch really makes the album but my complaint is that there are also GIGANTIC pictures of the band members faces taking up most of the space and no insert. I really identified with the mention of taping Don’t Change over and over on a cassette at age 12 because I did the same thing with Tainted Love.  If they had expanded these blurbs this record could have made a real connection with its audience. It all boils down to this – if you are my age and you’re familiar with the originals, you won’t lose sleep over skipping this record. However, if you’re some kind of renegade teen who doesn’t know Liz Phair or the Wipers, or who’s only heard the Descendents once or twice at a make out party (sounds like a rad party, by the way), then Shellshag might have something here for you. 

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