Sunday, January 3, 2010

Review #32: Social Distortion - Mommy's Little Monster (1983)


Year: 1983
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore
Label: 13th Floor Records
Tracks: 9
Length: 27 Minutes (Medium-Length)
Style: Rebellious
My Rating: 8/8

Social Distortion is a band much more well-known for their country-punk hybrid brand of music that they play nowadays, but at one point, they were one of the musically best hardcore bands of their time. Like "Group Sex" by the Circle Jerks, this album paints a picture of the feelings and motives of punks back in the early '80s who wanted to escape mainstream society which seemed destined to self-destruct and live their own way of life.

The album's music is a lot more melodic than its peers at the time, but it doesn't overdo it, it mixes musicalness with edge, so it doesn't sound like some pathetic political form of pop-punk that tries to pass itself off as "hardcore". It's more aggressive than the later Social Distortion releases, and it was released before Mike Ness's heroin addiction nearly did him in a couple years later... still, he recovered, and the band still performs and has released music to this day. This my favorite album by them, however. There are some really great song here...

1. The Creeps (I Just Wanna Give You)
This song fades in, and it's much faster than the other songs on this album. Not the best song on the album, but it's an alright opener, I suppose. What is yet to come is much better, however.

2. Another State of Mind
Starts with tinkling brass cymbals and a clean guitar lead. The rest of the instruments blast in, and Mike Ness delivers some great vocals which already sound like his familiar singing style. Seems to be describing a protagonist's feelings for a girl that he loves. It's a pretty good song!

3. It Wasn't a Pretty Picture
You can already feel the slight country element coming in at this point. The song describes the hardships and problems experienced by those who live in the city, such as prostitutes, bums, corrupt politicians, drug-using children, etc. Very grim lyrics, but the music has a slightly optimistic side to it.

4. Telling Them
Totally my favorite song on the album. Starts with an alright solo, but it really gets good when the rhythm guitar starts playin', as well as the bass and drums. The lyrics are about a young punk who is bored of daytime life which consists of drinking, working, and getting harassed by his parents, but loves to have fun at punk rock shows at night. The music is really fucking inspirational for any teenager who has rebellion issues and just wants to break free and have some fun. What I really like here is the little subtleties in the rhythm guitar during the verses. There's almost an aquatic quality to it if you listen to it really closely. Seems to be almost a personification of pent-up energy being released in a relatively calm manner. The end of Side 1.

5. Hour of Darkness
This is another great one. It's got a similar beat to the previous song, but it's slightly more down-beat, lyrically and musically. Deals with a destructive lifestyle and a fear of imminent death. Ends with a nice solo, seeming to imply some sort of bad incident.

6. Mommy's Little Monster
This iz another good song. It sounds happier than the previous song. It's about "Mommy's Little Monster", who could be pretty much any punk who ran away from a middle-class suburban life to go live a lifestyle which is more exciting and rewarding to them. Getting drunk, doing drugs, playing in bands, seeing bands... their parents are shocked when they see what they've become, especially when compared to the lives their siblings are living.

7. Anti-Fashion
A song attacking mainstream fashion and the way of life of the "popular crowd", which is laughable to most punks. Faster than a lot of the other songs on this record.

8. All the Answers
This song is really fun. The lyrics are about how the public at the time were seeing the punk rockers as a threat to American society and didn't know what to make of them. Ends with the line "and you thought you had all the answers...". This song is really good!

9. Moral Threat
Has a rather "epic" intro... finally, the crashing drums and more rhythmic cymbals signify the starting of the song. The song starts and Mike Ness starts singing. The line is basically the anthem of an alienated punk to the parts of society that have rejected him/her 'cause "cause you didn't like my looks, 'cause I'm not in fashion books." There's a long, slow instrumental mid-section that iz very cool and adds a lot of variety to the song. The song ends with the chorus repeated one more time. End of the album.

After this album, Mike Ness started to deal with a very nasty heroin addiction, until he finally got his act back together circa 1986 to '87. The band's music following this album would start to take on a more Johnny Cash-inspired flavor, but still with plenty of punk attitude. This, however, is my favorite, since it seems to be sung from a teenage point of view, and the songs on this one are just really fuckin' good. I consider this album to be my third-favorite record from the 1980s. Definitely give this a try!

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