Friday, July 20, 2012

Down by Law - Champions at Heart

I have listened to this CD twice and it sounded different to me the second time around than the first. It is a mature Down by Law. If I had to guess, Dave was listening to a lot of The Clash when writing the songs. There are a lot of references to Clash song titles “straight to hell”, “know your rights”, “complete control”, etc. He also displays song and vocals styles from all of the bands he has been in – DYS, Dag Nasty, ALL, and DBL. I think it will continue to grow on me the more I listen to it. It may be the most diverse group of songs that DBL has recorded on one release. The first few songs are up tempo, there are a few ballads, there is some with acoustic guitar in the background, some singalongs. There are a lot of lyrics about broken relationships, trying to figure out this world, being true to yourself and the punk scene, etc. I am glad they have put out another release, and that they are touring. A few of these songs would hold up well live, but they did not play any the night that I saw them (from what I can remember). As a bonus, there were two previously recorded but unreleased songs by the Pseudo Heroes - “Tiny Answers” and “Perpetual Sorrow” - that see the light of day with Sam on vocals. Lastly, I want to thank Dave for thanking me in the liner notes.

  1. Bullets – This song has been out for a while prior to this release. It is probably the best track on the release. “Well she said you're just a silly boy. I've heard that song before.”
  2. Nothing – Along with Bullets, this is another track about alcohol causing problems in a relationship. Another rocker in the style we have come to know by DBL.
  3. New Song – The intro to this song could be mistaken as a song by ALL. The lyrics are about keeping punk real, not forgetting about its roots, and not being a “costume” punk.
  4. Popcorn & Coke – DBL tempo with silly ALL type lyrics about living on popcorn and Coke and staying up late watching TV. “I don't want another fucking salad.”
  5. Knock This Town – This is the first ballad on the CD complete with acoustic guitar in the background. Has some feeling to a track on the Clash's Give 'Em Enough Rope. Dave belts out some passionate lyrics about “our town”.
  6. Tiny Answers – The first of two Pseudo Heroes recordings with Sam on vocals. This too has acoustic guitar in the background and is very Pseudo Heroish. Looking for answers regarding why we are here.
  7. Face Forward – Dag Nasty style vocals. The lyrics are about moving on from a broken relationship and historical personal ghosts.
  8. Punk Rock United (Step 1) – A geography lesson of names of cities making up Punk Rock United. Sort of a thank you to cities that were played over the years. “We haven't changed the world but we've made a fucking start.”
  9. Homicide – This has a new DYS style feel to it. I can't quite understand these lyrics. Pretty upbeat tempo. It does end with a 999 style “Homicide”.
  10. Misfits United (Step 2) – Dazed. Confused. Mixed Up. Misunderstood. Another sorta ballad.
  11. Warriors United (Step 3) – very Smalley folk sounding song. A bit of Dixie in the song. Many mentions of Clash songs in the lyrics - “straight to hell”, “know your rights”, etc. The second half of the song picks up the tempo.
  12. Crystals – This may be the fastest track on the release. It has a Dag Nasty feel and DBL from the previous release. Another retrospective about staying true to yourself and to the classic punk scene.
  13. Perpetual Sorrow – The second Pseudo Heroes track with Sam on vocals. Another broken relationship song. Similar style to the last Pseudo Heroes release.
  14. Rebels & Angels – Fighting the odds that the world has put in front of each of us. “One foot in life, one foot in the grave.”
  15. Champions at Heart – Acoustic guitar in the background again. Another folk type song. It has a Clash feel too it as well.
  16. All In – New DYS style lyrics with a mid tempo beat. Having fun at a show in the pit together fists raised singingalong. There are some early ALL anthems similar to what was on “Alfredo's”.

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