Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review #139: Scream - This Side Up (1985)


Year: 1985
Genre: Punk Rock
Sub-Genres: Hardcore, Post-Punk
Label: Dischord Records
Tracks: 11
Length: 37 Minutes
Style: Wild/Political/Emotional/
My Rating: 7/8

Scream was a punk rock band from Washington D.C., formed in 1981 by Peter Stahl, Franz Stahl, Skeeter Thompson, and Kent Stax. In 1983, the group released their first album called "Still Screaming", which was released on Ian MacKaye's Dischord Records label. That album earned the band success and the style was very politically-oriented, fast, loud hardcore punk. Well, this was their second album, and they added another member to the lineup; Robert Lee Davidson, to play the guitar, and here their musical style began to change and become more melodic.

1. Bet You Never Thought
Some of the guitars here seem a little cleaner than some of the more fuzzed-up sounds the band had offered before. Many nice guitar leads here. The song has a rather 'large' feel to it, but it's still quite energetic. There's a lot of backing harmonized vocals as well from the other band members. In the second half of the song, the beat becomes faster. There are a few parts where everything stops and it sounds like the song is going to end, but then the music all returns just before it all gets a little too off-course.

2. Things To Do Today
A very fast song similar to their earlier stuff, but even better! I love the guitar riff, here. There's a really fucking great funky little guitar solo midway through the song. Peter's vocals can be beautiful at some times. Ooh! Another great metal-ish solo at the end.

3. This Side Up
This one's a bit more dark-edged. The tempo is speedy like the two songs before it, but the riff in many parts seems more bleak. However, there are little shimmering streaks of optimism in the song, with the chorus and it's pretty good. You can hear the sounds of breaking glass at the end of the song.

4. Gluesniff
An anti-drug song about a man who sniffs glue. Begins with a beautiful acoustic intro, with Peter singing in a more monster-ish sounding voice as the glue-sniffer, and after that part, the song explodes into a noisy foray into the user's mind. This one's kinda fast, but not nearly as fast as the other songs before it. However, the complete chaos and energy to this one makes up for it. The vocals are excellent! Around the end, there's some nice group chorus vocals.

5. Still Screaming
Yeah, I'm guessing that the first album was named after this song. Funny that it didn't even get on that album! Well, it's a pretty long song, so BRAAACE YOURRRSELLLVEEEEZ (say those last two words in the voice that Peter uses in the intro of "Gluesniff"). But yeah, this song doesn't sound like anything else by the band I've heard. This song has elements of ska, with a post-punk sort of feel and even a saxophone! Feels like walking through the rain in a city or something in the evening time. Hey, in one part, we even get to hear a SCREAM! Who woulda thunk? Anyways, it's a very unique song. And, it's the end... of Side 1.

6. No Money Down
Yup, feel those chainsaw-sounding guitars. Some parts feel almost like early emo, and other parts of the song more just straightforward hardcore. Also, nice lead solos, which the band apparently had plenty of. There's a twist here, and the song ends in an acoustic section with the band singing "got no money -- no money down...", as the song fades out.

7. Show And Tell Me Baby
Some parts are angry-sounding, and others are more melodic sounding.

8. The Zoo Closes At Dark
Begins with a clippet of a person sayin' "that kid's makin' too much noise!". This is a very fast, rage-filled song. Excellent riff and drum beat. It actually kind of reminds me of a song I wrote myself, riff-wise (that song will be featured on a split album with Diehatzu Hijets very soon).

9. I Look When You Talk
Starts with only an acoustic guitar and the drums. Then it explodes into a piece that combines both the electric guitar and the acoustic guitar -- something that's always sounded real cool to me. It's a nice song, with a good riff, and a more upbeat style. Lots of variety and different sections to the song, adding to the mix.

10. Iron Curtain
This song sort of reminds me of crossover thrash (a mix between thrash metal and hardcore punk), mainly because of the song's riff and of course, the large usage of lead guitar. The beat is pretty cool in the chorus section. Nice vocals, nice everything. The second half of the song uses a different beat and tempo and echoey vocals, feeling more like later Black Flag.

11. Walking Song Dub
The first part of this song has a very wispy, aquatic feel to it, and the guitar here sounds much more gentle and mysterious. No lyrics in this part, just some humming to the music. This is interrupted by the sounds of street traffic, and then the song goes into a reggae/hip-hop-sounding song, with some heavy usage of samples and lots of whistling as well. The guitar melody is nice in parts of the song. Once again, very long (almost seven minutes), like the song "Still Screaming". And that's the end, the end. The end, the end -- that's the end!

With this being the first time I've ever listened to this album, I must say that I'm extremely impressed -- a huge improvement over the album before it! It retains the fury and style of hardcore punk, but it's for the most part a very experimental album and I like it. After this album, they released "Banging the Drum" in 1986... that one's pretty good also. But yes, check this out for sure if you can. It's pretty awesome.

Top 3 Favorites:
1. Things to Do Today
2. Gluesniff
3. Still Screaming

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