Sunday, September 11, 2011

Social Distortion - "Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes" album

If I ever meet Mike Ness, I will shake his hand respectfully. The man is an American institution. Rising from the second wave (or is it first?) of west coast punk in the late 70's, he's been a survivor from the start, conquering substance abuse, a splintering scene, fallen band members, and cut-throat major labels, only to find himself 30 years later as energized and vital as ever. With his (their) first album in 7 years, Social D don't so much change things, as hone their craft to an even sharper focus. Their trademark hybrid of old rockabilly and punk, with hints of old country and folk are unmistakable and singular.

The driving instrumental "Road Zombie" opens, and prepares the listener for what it to come...great, catchy, and heavy tunes about the hard life, but with a reverent love of life that's contagious. "California (Hustle And Flow)" is a bluesy rocker with a gospel backbone, staying true to Ness' past while simultaneously being as radio-ready as anything he's ever done. But the 9 tracks that follow are no slouches, either. "Writing On The Wall" will stick in your head for hours, for example, as will "Still Alive", which sums it all up and closes things out perfectly.

Ness pours his heart and soul into his songs, never forsaking the energy nor melody. Everything here is world class roots-punk. If you've ever liked Social Distortion before, this is a must-have. Highest marks. (Epitaph Records)

Social Distortion site

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