Social Distortion – Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes

It has been seven years since Social D’s last album, Sex, Love and Rock & Roll, and considering the time gap and the bands tendency to evolve their sound, no one knew what the hell to expect on Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. The album starts off with a nice, short and heavy instrumental, “Road Zombie,” which features some fancy guitar work and shows that the punk rock influence is still in lead singer Mike Ness, though sadly the opening track is the heaviest and fastest on this album. Not to say the album declines in any way, it just sort of gets you revved up initially and then cools its jets. The songs are great rock tunes and will without a doubt please any Social D fan. However, the more polished sound of this album does not suit Ness’s voice like the rough production of previous albums did. It’s kind of like a guy slamming whiskey at a wine tasting: he just doesn’t quite fit in, though the situation sounds kind of fun! One advantage of the extra production is the ample array of back-up vocals, from both female vocalists to the gang harmonies of the entire band. I don’t mind it, but clearly some other people at this wine tasting prefer whiskey. “California (Hustle and Flow)” and “Machine Gun Blues” are the album highlights and “Bakersfield” is an absolute snoozer – who the hell wants to hear a song about some lame ass town in the middle of nowhere? These dudes have been making music for over thirty years and although the lineup has changed several times, given seven years, I think a better album was possible. (Epitaph, Scott Wolfe

Talk – Action = 0 – Canadian punk legends hit the road again

By Sheldon Birnie

Over 30 years after forming Canadian political hardcore pioneers D.O.A., band leader Joe “Shithead” Keithley is back with on the road with a retrospective, Talk – Action = 0. Unflinchingly political, D.O.A. have played thousands of shows, and well over 200 benefit concerts for causes such anti-racism, women’s rights, anti-globalization and the environment. The book contains extensive rare photographs, show posters, hand written notes and lyrics, as well as a detailed history of the band and their activism. Preparing for the next leg of their tour, Joe took time out to speak to Stylus about the book, the band and the state of activism today.
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