Friday, April 2, 2010

Review #87: The Defendants - Uncle Scam (2009)


Year: 2009
Genre: Punk Rock
Label: Ohio Riot Records

16 Minutes (Short)
My Rating:

Damn, it's been awhile. I haven't written one of these reviews in forever! Well, I can explain it all: a few weeks ago when the weather was slightly less hot than it iz now, my Mother walked in on me singing and recording the vocals for one of my own songs. She was infuriated (second time I got caught making my own music)... I was immediately grounded for several weeks, so I was unable to write any more reviews... well FUCK IT! I don't care how many times I get caught, I'm so damn close to finishing my demo I've been working on for a half-year, I simply must finish it. Nothing else will do. Well, after my grounding wore off, I just got on a lazy streak writing-wise 'cause I was so used to not really doing anything productive.
Anyways... the Defendants are one of the few local punk groups in my area. They formed around 2008-ish or so, and take a lot of their influences from street-punk, hardcore punk, and crust punk. After numerous line-up changes, the band eventually solidified its lineup with Mike Defendant as the frontman (guitar and vocals), Chad as the bassist, and Johnny on the drums. Their lyrics are mostly about their political beliefs, though there's a few fucking-around-lyrically songs here and there. "Uncle Scam" is their first album they've released and I'm pretty sure it was released on Ohio Riot Records (and if not it's probably from their old label, Gem City Punx Records). Ol' Mikey Defendy actually gave me the damn album for free, so I decided to give it a review in return (which I like to do for as many albums as possible). And here is how it goes...

1. This is War

Starts with a pretty lead-driven intro. It's a sorta mid-tempo song against the government, declaring war against the government which has caused people to die "because of the system's selfish pride". The main riff kinda reminds me of one of the early Melvins songs, for some reason. Once again, a lot of guitar lead.

2. Legends

Similar tempo to the song before it. This song pays tribute to the punk rock legends of times gone by. More of a traditional hardcore sound in this one.

3. The FCC
This one's real fast! It's a thrasher detesting the FCC, an organization that practically wants to parent the whole world (including the parents!). I love the line "the FCC can censor me". Just sounds right for some reason.

4. Stand Up Fight Back

Probably the first Defendants song I ever heard, back when it was a demo. It's somewhat of an anti-police-brutality protest song. "Never fear a man in blue", Mike proclaims. The chorus that goes "STAND UP, FIGHT BACK, TAKE YOUR LIFE BACK" is joined by some background vocals; probably the rest of the band. Nice little solo in the middle, there. Spices things up a little bit. I love the riff.

5. Lies

I'm actually not quite sure what the lyrics to this one are, but they're probably about lies. Just a guess. Like, people lying and stuff. And how when you lie you're not actually telling the truth. And that the word "lie" can also refer to being on your back on the ground. The riff is pretty catchy, here.

6. No Nation

The riff reminds me of the song "Riot Fight" by the Beastie Boys in the beginning. Once again, I can't completely decipher the lyrics, but I actually kinda like how Mike sings all fast on this one. And it's another real fast song, which is a nice! I like the little lead guitar "tweeengs" thrown in parts of the song.

7. Nazi Scum

Totally my favorite song on this album. It has a great riff, and a nice fast beat. It's an anti-Nazi song. I love the line "you're gonna be dead by the end of this song". The lyrics are real confrontational and badass. The solo here is really cool. More backing vocals in the chorus.

8. Broken News
This is my second-favorite song on here. It's about the unrealistic, fallacious, superficial, dead-brained mainstream media and news that delivers lies to the gullible. Once again, a great lead guitar solo. "They can never stop the force that's known as punk" -- damn right.

9. Phone Sex

Ya see, here, the Defendants have delved into the world of 2nd-person lyricism. The song is about YOU, and it's from YOUR viewpoint. The song puts you in the place of a person who's Mom is getting phonefucked. Er, yeah. But for real, this is by far the shortest song on the album, being barely a half-minute long. I'm not quite sure if they should be havin' that phone sex with my Mom, though.

10. Uncle Scam

The title track of ze album. Starts with a funny spoken by Uncle Sam himself, asking you to hand over all of your hard-earned money to him. The song is pretty fast, including the vocals, so I dunno what the lyrics to it are, but it's a pretty good song. However, that iz the end.

So, that's "Uncle Scam". The main themes of the album are rebellion against the government, anti-fascism, and media behavior-control. I do have to say that I really like the production on the album -- it has a certain rawness in it not present in a lot of new albums, making the songs a lot more listenable than songs from a lot of other new artists. While not extremely innovative or anything like that, the Defendants have a good sense of writing a catchy, cool riff, which can make a great song in itself. According to the band, they're close to releasing a new EP, and it should come out pretty soon. And remember, children: the FCC can censor us all. Even youuu.

Top 3 Favorites:
1. Lies
2. Broken News
3. No Nation

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