Reel Big Fish has always been a sort of meaner band with one hell of an ignorant perspective to their albums and their fans. And by mean of course, I mean that they share with few other bands the gift that gets artists ahead a long way and highly noticed. They just donít give a shit. They donít care what listeners and the music industry think about their records and their music itself and they know that theyíre out here to enjoy life at a high and fun point. While it sounds a bit harsh, itís very clear to notice this fact by taking a look at their idiotic, often hilarious lyrics, and the vibe that they hurl at the listener while they enjoy some of the best ska there is to go around the table at this moment.
The band is straight out of Southern California, and released their debut album, Everything Sucks
in 1995. The album didnít exactly get them anywhere, but only got them noticed in their area. Then, in 1996, they released possibly their best album to this date, Turn The Radio Off
. This album clearly broke them through to a much bigger audience that expanded with every tour date. With the singles Sell Out
, and She Has A Girlfriend Now
, it didnít exactly expose them to mainstream fame, but very close.
Nearly ten years later, and three albums later, the band takes another shot to entertainment with a twist, with the release with their 2005 album, Weíre Not Happy ĎTill Youíre Not Happy
. As this album deals with the material you grew to love from the band as seen on Turn The Radio Off
, and Why Do They Rock So Hard?
, it also includes other aspects from the band, both fast and slow. Donít get me wrong, of course the band hasnít changed at all.
The In-Your-Face-Attitude is still in play. And itís clear just by looking at the album title. Iím not going to give it away just yet, but this time, the band has reached new heights and added to their earlier flavor, a taste of pop, a bit more of punk influences, and even a very interesting cover, that work together to deliver.
Reel Big Fish- We're Not Happy 'Till You're Not Happy
Reel Big Fish-
Aaron Barrett- Lead Guitar, Vocals
Scott Klopfenstein- Trumpet, Guitar, Piano, Vocals
Tyler Jones- Trumpet
Dan Regan- Trombone
Matt Wong- Bass
Justin Ferreira- Drums
No, itís not the Chili Peppers cover, or the original Henrix cover for that matter. What starts off the album here is a riff familiar to ĎTrendyí from their earlier album, and then falls deep into a great deal of energy, as an organ comes in along with an array of trumpets and bashing drums. Vocals break through with glee and donít slow down for one second, as every element keeps the track rolling, and keeps the same sort of tropical energy at front. The highlights here for me are the amazing trumpet solo and the great appearance of the catchy chorus that was always common procedure for the band. You will immediately recognize the material that was expanded off their older stuff in this track, as well as possibly the same exact riff at the beginning. Canít be too sure, but is without a doubt one of the best openers to a Reel Big Fish album. Letís you know what youíre in for, no excuses. 4/5
If I had a nickel for every Reel Big Fish song involving alcohol Iíve ever heard, Iíd have plenty of money to buy a few copies of this already great album. The track opens up with a more laid-back riff thatís joined by some washy hats and then on with the vocals about being drunkÖagain. The organ keeps the song going at great pace, and trumpets once again make an appearance on not a big portion of the track, but enough so theyre highly noticeable. The verses filled with moderate energy lead to a bit of a generic chorus, and eventually to an interesting guitar solo. The highlight on this one is the solo/bridge that throws a nice tempo-change at you and then screams out the last chorus with all itís might. Not very good compared to the opener, but keeps the same good mood going. 4/5
Donít Start A Band
The song starts off right away with Scott preaching about bad side of having a rock band. The soft turns into a heavy rocker and into one of the very best on the album right away. The funny, often confusing lyrics actually make you realize that most of it is very true. The swirling guitar at the solo in the smack-dab middle of the track and the loud, interfering drums are constantly reminding you that the song gets closer and closer to the albums best, but not quite. The highlight here are the vocals and lyrics, as they make the song about twenty times as enjoyable as if they were replaced by others. The trumpet also take part in an interesting interlude in the track and help out in ending the song very nicely. It barely gets any better than this. 4.5/5
Scott starts us off right away with some hollers as the song gets on itís way with pointless lyrics, but music that really shoots high up there. As the song just revolves around the fact that someoneís indeed AWESOME, it actually gets the song somewhere, as the trumpets stay up there at the high point, making the song ring with confidence as well as before. The verses are joined by a female backup singer, and if anything, adds to the fact that the person the song is talking about owns. The bridge turns into a full choir of at least 10 people, and leads into the explosive outro that leads out of the song. Pretty over-the-top for a song that makes a short, stupid statement, but great stuff nonetheless. 4/5
We Hate It When Our Friends Become Successful
A great drumroll can be seen here to start off the more mellow and ska-influenced track, and vocals get right to the point. Aaron rants about something that everyone of course can relate to. Envy, of friends making it to the big time and you being left behind with nothing. He accomplishes to make the point with very stupid lyrics, while still making it highly interesting and trumpets and slash cymbals going off in the background. The drums afterwards keep a steady, and simple beat to keep the familiar bass-line by Wong company. Itís actually a very well-though out track, as the tempo-changes with the organ and the bridge fit in with the quite annoying hollers provided by Scott and Aaron. The highlight here of course though, is the outro, as it combines great energy and every instrument going off at sync. Not great, but good. 3.5/5
Turn The Radio Off
Here it is. Simply the best track on the whole album. As it shares the title with the bandís best-selling album, it makes the statement well, and keeps you glued to the music as it goes ahead to include one of the most infectious choruses Iíve ever heard from the band, and the great hopping, stupid energy that brings fans flocking. The song starts out with dual vocals and an interesting riff that flows into the bass, and the short verses eventually lead to the best chorus on the album. The whole song is notable to have the same mood, made best by explosive trumpets and flaring sounds from the set by drummer Justin. A drum-roll and a great fill takes the song through the bridge and into the last chorus. Although people might think this is filler at some point, it really is one of the best by the band. Enjoy. 5/5
Talkiní Bout A Revolution
Justin starts this one off with some tighter hats, hurling into the fact that this will be another slower ballad. This is a very important track on the album, as it slows down the mix, and adding great variables that were waiting to come into play eventually. And they picked the right time too. Aaron and Scott make their way through the verses and into the more interesting chorus with a groove. Love it. A more serious song, but yet....not. Appearances by the backup singers are once again in here and overall, is just the most easygoing track on here. Enjoy this, because it wont be long until we get hit with the other stuff again. 4/5
The Bad Guy
Trumpets flare right into the picture, and starts up another of the best on the album. Aaron starts about a relationship and how heís always the one getting blamed. The slower verses keep it going with the organ almost at bay, and the Justinís hats on tight mode, and shuffling across the measures. The chorus then pops out with aaron raising his voice, and doing so with plenty of heavier backup behind him. The highlight here is the bridge, because it enters a state that makes you believe its almost a whole other song, and turns the song in another direction that makes it more enjoyable, and makes you eager to see where itíll go to get to the conclusion. Very nice. 4.5/5
Story Of My Life
If you hadnít guessed by now what song was the cover, then here it is. Story Of My Life by O.C veterans Social Distortion was a huge hit and a big influence in punk, and now the band will try to twist the pieces around right in front of your eyes, as they attempt to add ska elements and plenty more twists to the mix. The song starts with the familiar riff, but with the organ as company. Vocals come in with the lyrics you should love by now, and trumpets break in the verses to add the RBF ambience. The more up-lifting chorus is started with washier hats and is youíll be able to tell that they did it right. The same continues for the following minutes, until it brings the band to the bridge. Here, the trumpets burst in leading the way, as the bubbly organ still rings in the background. This continues until it gets to the glorious conclusion. One of the best covers Iíve heard by far. I cant say itís better than the original, but they stand the same for me, as in a way, they are as different as they are alike. 5/5
The Jokeís On Me
Flock Of Seagullís background chiming is at play here, as the song gets on itís way with Aaron exploding the song in half, with interesting vocals about falling for the bad kind of joke. Not much to say about this track, as it shares the generic sound a lot of Reel Big Fish tracks have had before. I suspect filler, but at the same time, once the song gets around the bridge, it makes me think about it a second time. The repetitive vocals get on my nerves sometimes, but the music itself isnít that bad overall. Iíd grade it at an average score, but to some other people, it can clearly shoot much higher. 3/5
One Hit Wonderful
This includes a very cool intro. All you can hear is a radio picking up different signals and you can hear the bandís singles from the past. You can hear faint sounds of the hit ďSell Out" and others. This is the slowest track on the album and the most serious as well. At this point, youíd think it would be hard to take the band seriously, but they make it happen. They pull all the lighter chords and elements together to bring you a more sentimental song to change the mix once again, but at the same time, make you realize that it was really meant to belong at some point in the album. Fades out with the radio signals once again, and goes on to the next subject. 3.5/5
Shuffles on the hats can be heard here by Justin as well as a very interesting line by Aaron and trumpets ringing in your ear like always. The verses come on with enthusiasm including rolls on toms and tempo-changes including the organ again, until it gets to the greater chorus, and the song gives you another up-lifting ceremony and then keeps the song going again. As well as the predecessor, it shares some more serious lyrics, but at the same time, no, it doesnít. The bridge is the intro but slowed down a bit, and then come on with rolls and heavier guitar until the track fades out with the same repetitive material. Clearly a Ďgrowerí. 3.5/5
Trumpets at the frontline once again, and soft fills complete a moment of mellow measures until Justin starts off the faster verse. Aaron starts off with lyrics about falling in love, and then breaking away from the person, as far as you can. Pretty funny if you look at it right, and usually brings a smile to my face, as well as entertains me with the following musical portion. The bridge bring us to a separate story told by Scott and Aaron, and flams break into the mix and then slows it down to just trumpets and trombone. The repeating lyrics once again show up a bit, and fades out with the same note the song started out with. Pretty good, and very good, considering the album is getting closer and closer toÖwell, closing. 4/5
Your Guts (I Hate ĎEm)
This closer is very short and makes a split second of an appearance. The mean lyrics are funny at itís moments and thereís not much to really say about the track other than itís more of a joke song than a serious closer track. Ranking only at about two minutes, the pointless material rings in your ears and then some. Not the best closer to such a good album, but I mean, in Reel Big Fishís terms, its good. 3.5/5
-Not very serious for a base that needed more (save a few tracks)
-Repetitive material at times
Iím not going to hesitate with this one, but Iím going to be honest, like always. This album, if not the best by the band, is pretty damn close to Turn The Radio Off
, depending how you look at it. With everything that has brought the band to the big time in their career bundled up in one album, itís sure to deliver great thing your way. If youíre not exactly a fan yet, then Iíd recommend you start out with Turn The Radio Off, but if youíre already a fan, and havenít checked this one out yet, then hereís your approval.