Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Shot Baker - "Take Control" review
Most of today's "Chicago punk bands" have strayed far from their roots. By roots, I mean bands like Naked Raygun and The Effigies, two Chicago originals from the early 1980s that gave Chicago a defined, unique sort of working-class sound.
Sure, Chicago has popular bands like Alkaline Trio, whose influences include Naked Raygun, Pegboy and a slew of Chicago originals, but they are a completely separate animal.
But in 2003, Shot Baker exploded onto the scene.
My first time hearing them was at a Mopes reunion show at the Beat Kitchen in the summer of 2006, where I picked up a five-song demo with a little bird on the cover.
I immediately fell in love with the philosophical, yet contemplative lyrics backed by such strong, driving music.
At first, I was reminded of Screeching Weasel, not by the band's sound, but by its messages and thoughts. One of my favorite elements of Ben Weasel's lyrics is that he admittedly doesn't know everything, but finds a niche in not knowing and he still tries to figure things out. I sensed this in vocalist, Tony Kovacs' lyrics.
It's something I can relate to, just like Shot Baker's new album, "Take Control," released on June 24 on Riot Fest Records.
The album, less than 30 minutes long, has a lot packed into it.
The first song, "Short On Time," is a straight up punk song about accepting the way things they are, even if they would be better changed. It's not a song about giving up, but a song about living and going with the flow, so to speak.
Kovacs sings "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em/I'm done searching for the truth."
Immediately following "Short On Time" is "Falling Apart," a song re-recorded from the little bird demo I picked up two summers ago.
This tune's eye-opening lyrics sing of fear and man's ignorance. Kovacs sings about how the borders of large and powerful countries are nothing more than lines drawn in sand and how depending on which side you're on, the other side's men are always going to be less than yours.
It's about the ridiculousness of pride and arrogance. But like most Shot Baker songs, it's a hopeful tune, ending with a message.
"Let evolution strike the human heart/Ignite the light of truth/Compassion will triumph over ignorance/It all starts with you."
Kind of like a "Your vote matters" message, only without the false pretense lying underneath.
The next song that really caught my attention and sparked a bunch of neurons was "Just In Case."
Kovacs really digs a philosophical mine in this one, as he breaks everything down by saying, "Did you ever stop and think? Your ancestral history. All those people had to meet and all the circumstances had to be just right, down the line, back to the time when man first started. This big bad life is what you're handed, will you take your time for granted?"
There's a little hint of sarcasm in there, poking fun at all the depressed people we have wandering the Earth for no real reason.
But the real kicker in this song that makes me want to live each day to the utmost fullest is when Kovacs says, "Now is your greatest journey, make it all worthwhile just in case there is no afterlife/Live like it fucking matters, search for heaven deep inside just in case there is no afterlife."
I can't say enough about how truly amazing "Take Control" is. It covers both spectrums of musical enjoyment. If you're more into the words, this album's got it. If you're more into the sound, this album has it down to a beat.
Do your ears and mind a favor and pick up "Take Control" by Shot Baker. For anybody else who hasn't quite figured things out but are open to life's possibilities, this album is an ass-kicking, reassuring pot of gold.