The Casualties - Made in NYC
Record Label: SideOneDummy Records
Release Date: September 25, 2007
Any band that uses the term “punx” is going to have to overcome some significant hurdles if it wants to be taken seriously. It’s not that I’m a punk purist, or old skool punk rock revivalist. I’m not, nor have I ever been, “punk” in any way. But that term carries with it significant connotations (not to mention grammatical horrors) that will definitely lead me to prejudge the band before I ever hear a single note. That term is also one that The Casualties seem to love throwing around.
The first time I heard the band was as a college radio DJ when a copy of On the Front Line was dropped in my mailbox. I still have it too, laying forgotten in one of the many drawers next to my desk. I remember looking at the back of the album and immediately prejudging the band based upon their appearance. I also recall my friends doing much of the same. But I still spun the record a few times, watched their set at the 2004 Warped Tour, and recall neither hating nor loving the band or their set. So when I gave a spin to their new live album and DVD, I had a relatively clear mind, albeit some prejudgments that I was more than willing to overcome as mere shadows of early adulthood bias and immaturity.
Let me start by saying this: if in my immaturity I had little to no opinion of them aside from hair and clothes, now I see them as a waste of potential. Energetic, yes. Devoted to their values and ideals, yes. But there’s a whole lot more wasted potential than anything else. This was confirmed by giving On the Front Line a courtesy spin after listening to this album, just to make sure it was the same band. And alas, it is.
Whereas their recorded work is definitely polished and well produced, the live album a mash up of fast guitars and muffled shouting. Basically, every member of the band plays as fast as they can, throwing any hope of melody out the window, while Jorge Herrera shouts into the microphone over and over again. I know the band has a strong devotion to “punk rock,” and perhaps that’s why they felt it necessary to mimic as closely as possible any underground punk show in NYC, but their music doesn’t exactly fit into the mold of underground bands. Their music is too melodic to translate into furious strumming, their lyrics too “deep” to be snarled and screamed and shouted without any concept of verse, tempo or progression. I like the recorded version of "On the Front Line," but the live version is unbearable. The only song on the album that translates well into the fast and furious medium is their cover of The Ramones' classic “Blitzkrieg Bop.”
As far as production goes, it sounds halfway decent. Many of the screams of fans have been digitally reduced, and as much as attention as possibly was paid to polishing the sound up. Sometimes the CD doesn’t exactly match the DVD in terms of quality, which is often to be expected. The saving grace of the DVD is the viewer can see the stage show, which actually improves upon the music being played.
All in all, I took very little away from this album. Two listens was all I needed to know it wasn’t a keeper for me. While a fan of The Casualties probably devour it and reminisce about how amazing their live show is, and probably find plenty of fault with my review of it, as a main-line music lover, this album does nothing for me. Perhaps it loses something in translation, but I can and have found better representations of style and substance playing Alphabet City on any given Tuesday night. This one is only for the fans.
anyway, just found this while browsing and I've gotta say it was definitely a very good review. I agree on many points here, and have never been a fan of this band, aside from 2 songs they have that I can stand. everything else though...blah.