The Stereo State - Have All My Friends Gone Deaf
Record Label: Creator-Destructor
Released Date: October 11, 2011
Gruff vocals, a hallmark of many punk hopefuls on the melodic side of the spectrum, generate a sense of welcoming and hope to many. For Creator-Destructor up and comers, The Stereo State, the mixture of those gritty vocal rumblings interwoven between pristine harmonic melodies and warm encompassing tones does just that, welcome. While the outside world may be cold and unforgiving Have All My Friends Gone Deaf? gives solace and comfort to those seeking it.
Just as their contemporaries in Heartsounds, the sounds of the 90’s Fat-Wreck era continuously peak through the sonic landscape, yet with a decidedly slower take on one of punks golden ages. Their mid tempo grooves, driven melodies and simple, yet hard hitting, chord progressions bring to mind such bands as Polar Bear Club, Hot Water Music, Lagwagon, and The Ataris. At some moments drawing out the more melodic side of Jawbreaker.
Produced by Trevor Reilly of A Wilhelm Scream fame, the albums production value illuminates a feeling of warmth. With a deep low end in almost all aspects of production and a big encompassing sound, it highlights the cozy feeling of the album, coinciding with the musings of singers Andy Frongillo and Gabe Griffin. Songs of longing, life lessons, depression and quarrelsome relationship issues give the album a strong emotional structure. On top of this one can feel the sense of family within this band, as all members contribute lyrically.The down trodden and beaten can take solace in the arms of these stewards of the melancholy.
While The Stereo State shoots out of the gates hard, they seem to trample over each other as the middle of the album approaches. The integrity of mid tempo bangers “As Honest As I can Be” and “Soldiers Home” are challenged half way through the album with the speedy approach of “Horse To Hell” followed by the somber “Overchurr.” The former tickles the more intense side of the bands interests, yet lacks the immediate reply value that many of the other tracks posses, while the later sounds like a watered down version of a later-era Red Hot Chilli Peppers album. Their predecessors bring out the “emo” factor of the band with lyrics such as “She knew something was wrong/Her instinct didn’t take too long/To see right through the half truths and disguises I had on” in “As Honest As I Can Be.” While “Soldiers Home” erupts into a soaring, Jawbreakeresque intertwining collaboration between guitar and drums, provided by Griffin and drummer Brandon Spence respectively.
The second half of the album begins with the dragging, heart pulling, quasi-metal piece “No Constellation.” Griffin displays his expertise on guitar with a solo that seems to simply drop at its end, as if the notes were forgotten. This is slip up is quickly forgotten as “Tug of War” resumes the onslaught of mid tempo melodic punk that the band has so precisely mastered. A straight forward, driven rhythm provided by Spence and brother Matthew Spence on bass, erupts into a supernova of speed, racing towards the end of the universe, only to be abruptly stopped in its tracks. Have All My Friends Gone Deaf? is concluded with aptly named “Shitfaced”. A song full of tales of desperation and overcoming battles wraps up the album with a simple message “I pray there’s a day that I can wake and not feel ashamed.”
The novelty value in this album is not originality, nor is it instrumentation or intensity. What it is however is a message of sympathy, wrapped in a warm package of quality mid tempo melodic punk songs, with a few misgivings here and there. What The Stereo State is trying to say with Have All My Friends Gone Deaf? is “I’ve been there too.” And when all your friends have gone deaf you can take solace in this embracing piece of punk history.
This album is so fucking great. I'm not so sure that I hear any Lagwagon, Ataris, or Jawbreaker in these songs but it should definitely attract fans of those bands. I hear more Polar Bear Club than any other bands referenced in these songs but regardless...
I'd liken them more to a skate-punk version of Samiam or something. Either way, the vocals on this album are what make it stand out.