The Living End - The Living End
Chris Cheney - Guitar/Vocals
Scott Owen - Double Bass/Backup Vocals
Trav Demsey - Drums/Backup Vocals
I always thought 1998 was a decent year for Australian music, The Living End is accountable for more than a part of that reasoning. They gained a hell of a lot of recognition with Prisoner Of Society, which personally I didn't like that much, it was Second Solution that did it for me. With a bit of luck, I won myself a copy of this, their debut album, from a local newspaper.
The music.. well, it's mostly fast, gutsy, a little bit raw, and technical. Chris is one skilled guitarist, great solos in each song. The double bass and drums are quite good too, but they don't feature as prominently as the guitar. Vocals are mostly punk in style, just more refined.
The rockabilly style features plenty, but they also do ska, rock and jazz. There's some strange chord progressions, which take a little getting used to, but once that's happend sounds right after all.
Lyrically, a few of the songs are a social commentary, but there is a range of other topics as well to keep it interesting. It's probably aimed at teens somewhat, but there are also more mature songs in there.
1. Prisoner Of Society - Hard and fast anarchist anthem. One of my less liked songs, but lots of people really liked it, and it won the band a lot of popularity. A good one to snare the teenage rebel kids, while still having decent music.
2. Growing Up (Falling Down) - Still fast, but much more melodic. The lyrics are a bit corny, another song for the teenagers.
3. Second Solution - This is the song that got me hooked. It has a dark street at night - old style gangster - just commited a crime mood, with a bit of a fast swing feeling in the music.
4. West End Riot - It's a story about kids who played with cap guns in the street, 2 teams would battle it out, then when they have grown up, they still remember it. Good imagery with the lyrics and kind of dark music.
5. Bloody Mary - It has a dirty, sleazy jazz vibe about it, and I like it. It's about some woman (possibly a prostitute) being murdered or commiting murders, I'm not sure.
6. Monday - This is about the Dunblane School shooting, it's has a more childish (intentional) sound to the music, while still having that technical element with the instruments.
7. All Torn Down - The band taking a stand against the buildings with cultural or historical significance in their city being knocked down in place for new ones. The verse is ska in style, and theres a straight melodic rock sound for the chorus.
8. Save The Day - The speed picks up again for this song, it's more melodic and punkish. About being a hero or something.
9. Trapped - Ska comes back, this time theres a trumpet and sax to help out. It's much more laid back, for the verse at least. The chorus is harder, but the horns give it a triumphant feeling.
10. Have They Forgotten? - I always had in my head that this was about the government not being sensitive to families that have had a recent death, but now I think it's about criminals getting out of jail lightly and justice not being properly served. This is probably the purest rockabilly song on here
11. Fly Away - By far the jazziest song on here, for ages I didn't like it, but one day it clicked. The lyrics are about making choices... teenager lyrics but mature music.. apparently so. I like it.
12. I Want A Day - Pub rock sound here and also some ska in the chorus. It's about hating a stupid job and whishing a day off. I never thought much of this song.
13.1. Sleep On It - Rock verse, punk chorus, it's pretty melodic. I quite like the muted guitar in the bridge, gives a very tense feeling. It's a good song, even if it's about having nightmares.
13.2. Strange - Some cd's had this song at track 13. It's got an old school pop sound, very melodic, and a very jazzy solo. Teen based lyrics again, about being "strange" but not caring. Not bad, but I'm glad I had Sleep On It on my cd.
14. Closing In - This is such an impressive track, easily the most technical and progressive song of the cd. It's an instrumental, but it still gives great imagery, and in just 3 minutes goes through highs and lows better than any of the other songs on here.
So, there it is, music that was easily accepted by the younger crowd and yet skilful enough for fans of good music. It was a good mix for them, and it certainly paid off. I hear they have gone more pop since then, but I've heard very little of the new stuff to be able to judge for myself.
The music is well written, things happen when they are meant to, nothing sounds out of place, song structures aren't really anything away from the normal, so it makes it easy for lots of people to listen to. The guitar work is great, something you don't see much in popular music these days, and the bass and drums also pull their weight very well.
I like most of the songs still, a very strong debut album from some very talented musicians. The only thing I find a bit offputting is the teeny lyrics, I guess the teens don't mind them though, at least they get some great music alongside.