Alkaline Trio – Damnesia
Release Date: July 12, 2011
Record Label: Epitaph/Heart & Skull
Alkaline Trio aren't the first band to trade in the electric guitar for an acoustic one and release stripped down material – bands such as Against Me!, Moneen, and Saves The Day are a few that come to mind. But I can't think of many bands who've released an entire album full of re-worked, semi-acoustic versions of fan favorites from albums past. That's what makes Damnesia somewhat unique – this isn't your normal “greatest hits” compilation. There are 15 tracks on Damnesia – 12 “classic” tracks, 2 new ones, and a cover – and on each one the Trio attempts to bring something new to the song through these re-imaginings.
Some of the tracks are just your basic acoustic renditions, such as “Calling All Skeletons” and “Clavicle,” but those tracks don't falter because of it, mainly because of the solid songwriting from years ago. The two new tracks are classic Trio. Matt Skiba shines on “Olde English 800,” a short yet infectious sing-along dedicated to the joys of alcohol, while the lovesick “I Remember A Rooftop” features Dan Andriano at his very best.
The tracks that stand out the most though are the ones that include minor tweaks here and there. The double-bass kick of “We've Had Enough” gives it new life, and horns and percussion intensify the ominous nature of “Private Eye.” The eerie piano chords of “The American Scream” adds another layer of darkness to an already grim track, while “Mercy Me” maintains its original energy while adding some rich texture. The band pours on the twang with their cover of the Violent Femmes' “I Held Her In My Arms,” while “Nose Over Tail” does its very best to recapture the intensity of the original. The album closes spectacularly with Skiba's passionate arrangement of “Radio,” ending Damnesia on an intimate note.
While an album consisting mainly of new-old songs may seem unnecessary, at the end of the day, Alkaline Trio succeeded in what they were trying to accomplish – giving something cool back to its longtime fans. You'll be hard-pressed to find many Trio fans unhappy with this release. Of course, some tracks come across as bland (“Every Thug Needs A Lady” and “Blue In the Face” for example) and the fact that they didn't experiment more on some tracks is disappointing. But for the most part, Alkaline Trio knocked it out of the park, creating a new playlist of songs for you and your friends to drunkenly sing along to in the future. If anything, Damnesia satiates the appetite fans have for new material (as well as washing away the disappointing taste of 2010's This Addiction) while proving that an old band can still do new tricks.
I'm still not really sure why they chose Blue in the Face. There are already three other tracks from Good Mourning, and the original is kind of stripped down itself. Not to mention that they used to play a reworked electric version live. They have such an awesome back catalog, I find it hard to believe they couldn't have picked a better song. Plus, there are far too few Danny tracks. I'm still pretty happy with most of the album, though. Well, except for the removal of the claps from Calling All Skeletons.
I don't think Alkalkine Trio are running out of creativity, Dan isn't anyway, I think Matt might be trying too hard these days to attempt to conjure up some kinda of dark lyrics.
Bit disappointing that there is a lack of some of their greatest tracks on here (Time to Waste, Take Lots with Alcohol) and it's also disappointing that they decided to include Blue in the Face without really changing it THAT much but the tracks that are on here are semi-decent, worth a couple of listens
The new version of "Every Thug Needs a Lady" is amazing, very enjoyable album otherwise too
EDIT: I just read that you thought that track was bland?!? Listen to it again, it is near heartbreaking how sincere the vocals are and how stripped back the song is. I was honestly floored with what they did to the track