Tag Archives: Pop Punk

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Anthem’ (2003) by Less Than Jake

11 Jul

By Slick Nick

I’ve been listening to punk bands since 1999, and it’s hard to think of a more worthless sub genre of music than ska punk. Replace any semblance of creativity in a pop punk band with trumpets and colourful shirts, and what presents itself is an irritating and generally unpopular style of music. A record label’s ska punk band/s will almost always be their lowest sellers, regardless of whether the label is an independent or a major.

Being a ska punk album released in the worst ever decade for rock music, I was expecting ‘Anthem’ to be a shitter. The fifth studio album by Less Than Jake (LTJ) doesn’t disappoint in that respect, being one of the worst albums ever made. Appropriately, this was also the Florida band’s return to a major label.

Given their kerazy live show reputation and cartoony album artwork, on record LTJ are actually surprisingly dull. Listen to any Greenday or Blink182 album, and music-wise the entire span of the band’s creativity will be more than covered. Listening to ‘Anthem’ in 2011 as I have done for this post is quite a mind-numbing experience.

A band doesn’t need to be as skilled as Rush in terms of music to keep me entertained, but they damn well better have some killer hooks to lead their songs if they claim to be a pop punk group. ‘Anthem’ not only lacks tunes, but the one or two it does have sound very familiar. A well-trained ear isn’t really required to discover that the melody lines tend to follow the same path from song to song. I am sure reading the sheet music to this record would evoke multiple feelings of de ja vu.

LTJ have two vocalists who tend to share singing duties from song to song – a rarity in rock music. Guitarist Chris Demakes isn’t too bad, in a generic sort of way, but bassist Roger Manganelli really flops on this album. His lead vocal on second single ‘The Science of Selling Yourself Short’ is poor; whiny and irritating, it barely holds the tune together. Incidentally, this song features some of the very sparse proper ska/raggae moments on the album.

Roger: A dreadlock for every time his singing has annoyed me

Speaking of singles, ‘She’s Gonna Break Soon’ really is the pits. I remember when it first came out and was never off the music channels, much to the annoyance of my younger self. I could easily ignore the band’s music but not when this shitter came out. The song really is the crappest, barrel-scraping generic, throw away pop-punk garbage imaginable. It’s also quite a cynical stab at marketing, highlighting their target demographic (tedious angsty teens) lyrically and visually in the song. It makes Papa Roach’s ‘Last Resort’ video look subtle and profound.

Finally, as a ‘bonus’, and I use that word very loosely, LTJ offer a breakneck, inferior cover version of Cheap Trick’s majestic ‘Surrender’. The charm in the original was the melody and the fucking immense, crunchy old guitar sound. It doesn’t work as a 2-minute pop punk song. It just rubs salt into the wounds of the listener; the band have to spoil a good song as well as delivering a miserable album of their own terrible compositions.

I find LTJ’s releases in the wake of ‘Anthem’ quite amusing. Obviously they had blown their creative load on these crap songs, so the next release labelled ‘B Is For B-Sides’ was an album of outtakes from the ‘Anthem’ sessions. Songs too crap for even that album must be beyond worthless. Next came a live album, before they remixed the B-sides album for ANOTHER release. It beggars belief that these fellas grew up in the punk rock scene.

Materials found being used for bedding in the LTJ tour bus in 2009

The Worst Albums Ever Made – ‘Hooray For Boobies’ (2000) by The Bloodhound Gang

29 Jan

By Slick Nick

Setting out with good intentions but then making a shit album is bad enough, but hey, we’re all human and not everyone can be as gifted as John Lennon or Rod Stewart when it comes to crafting unforgetable music. But when a band knowingly records an album of rubbish, then uses the resources and talents of top music industry figures to put it on compact disc for all eternity, that is slightly less forgivable.

Incase the album title doesn’t give it away, rest assured that Bloodhound Gang were not a group that took themselves overly seriously. This was an album full of jokes that would only appeal to the most loathsome of pubescents at best, and at worst, your Dad.

Like a lot of the worst albums ever made, ‘Hooray For Boobies’ encompasses an eclectic range of musical genres. Pop-punk at heart but with cod metal tendencies, the Gang were shrewd enough to ensure they remained current at the time by sprinkling the odd rap break and dance beat across their work. Case in point: hit single ‘The Bad Touch’, which sticks out like a lump of dogshit hanging from someone’s shoe, as well as being reminiscent of the theme tune to the long-forgotten Clothes Show.

One of my pet hates with albums in general is the use of non-musical filler, for example sound samples at the beginning of songs, spoken word clips taken from TV shows and movies, lengthy feedback (with a couple of exceptions) and entire songs used solely for non-musical ‘comedic’ purposes. Five of ‘Hooray For Boobies’ eighteen tracks fit into the latter category, plus there are various spoken word clips littered throughout. So apart from the music being terrible, the whole ordeal of listening to this reord is made all the more painful and drawn out by these techniques.

The production here is a joke, sounding like the instruments were recorded in someone’s garden shed with equipment from Argos. I have no problem with a band looking for a raw, stripped down sound if it suits their music, but when you’re making a pop album for the radio with the backing of a major label behind you, you’d better make sure you don’t come out of the recording studio with anything less than a polished, chunky and aesthetically pleasing sound at the very least.

This album teaches a fundamental life truth about music though – if it’s a terrible gimick, expect it to sell shitloads. If it’s a terrible gimick that features songs about burping and tits, with swear words censored in the videos, then expect it to sell shitloads and constantly permeate your everyday existence. Fucking forget escaping it for even one day unless you plan on spending some time alone in a padded cell. You can’t get away from it. Just suck it up, take it on the chin and make sure to have some decent ‘antidote’ music handy to soothe the agony. I’d recommend anything by the Ramones, Ten Yard Fight and Dire Straits, off the top of my head.

These chaps were a fair few years from being the stereotypical ‘just out of high school and arsing around before getting a proper job in IT sales‘ types at the time of recording this CD. I don’t believe for one second that singer/song-writer Jimmy Pop wasn’t a cold and calculating musical prodigy who knew damn well what he was doing when he wrote these crap songs in his late twenties. He spotted a gap in the market and filled it with ‘Hooray For Boobies’, and ever since has probably enjoyed a carefree existence, listening to the great symphonies of Bach, Mozart and Pachelbel on a $30,000 stereo whilst sitting on a beanbag stuffed entirely of money in a Beverly Hills mansion. The cunt.

 

Mum and Dad this is Chasey, Chasey this is the shit music that will help put my kids through college.

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