Friday, August 5, 2011
'The Thorns of Life' by House Boat
By Jason Duarte
Traffic Street Records
Rating: 4/5 (you guys didn't get a 5 because there is only one Ace song. Bitches.)
House Boat is definitely the best "Hey,-there's-these-leftover-Steinways-tunes,-what-should-we-do-with-them" band of the decade. This band scooped up not only pre-existing, disgruntled-by-their-demise Steinways fans, but Ergs! fans, Off With Their Heads fans and a couple of Rivethead fans. These tricky bastards covered the east coast AND the Midwest fanbase just by being like, "Hey, we're a band. No, a supergroup."
So they had success and (HIV-)positive feedback with their first album, The Delaware Octopus. Upon announcing a second album, fans all over the world (or at least the east coast and Midwestern USA) thought, "Shit, album number two. This is where they're gonna sell out. I bet it's gonna sound a lot like 'Load' by Metallica. I bet Mikey Erg's gonna get contact lenses. I bet Grath's gonna start auto-tuning his vocals. I bet they're gonna sign to Fat Wreck and they're gonna put people like Sam North and Adam Ali on the street. We'd better sell all our House Boat shit before it comes out so it looks like we never were a part of this band's fanbase."
BUT THEY WERE WRONG! They really were. Mikey still owns his glasses and I don't think Grath's vocals are that auto-tuned.
As over-produced and with as many synthesizers and lasers as The Thorns of Life has, it's a great record, with one exception: there's one fucking Ace song (remember that foreshadowing under the album art? You knew this criticism was coming, House Boat). I was told that it was going to be less of a Steinways band and more of a House Boat band, so I expected more Ace and Mikey Erg lead vocals. They do some great backups though. Guess I'll just have to wait for Ace's solo album, so I can have something to mack on my girlfriend with. Whatever. Hurry up.
In all seriousness, AIDS. No, this is a great pop punk record. It's everything that's a step up from The Delaware Octopus but with the same amount of power chords. That's hard to do, right? Best song: "Now We Are 31." Dude, this shit even ends with a fucking acoustic ballad by Grath called, "Bug Out." It's a good, hopefully-optimistic song about missing a girl and waiting around for her. I imagine him playing it at shows and everyone puts their arms around each other and sways around and sings along. About 3/5 into the song, drums come in and there's some electric guitar feedback beefing up Grath's ballad. It's just feedback though, it doesn't go, "DUNNNNNNN" at any point, like you expect it to. Whatever. Get this album cause it's fun and good and stuff and I'm not gonna talk about any of the songs other than the ballad. I'm not gonna mention the album art and it's similarity to Screeching Weasel's Television City Dream cover or the fact that the album title is the name of a defunct band fronted by Jawbreaker singer, Blake Schwarzenbach.