Review Summary: Holy sh*t it's Rev
Of all the 1990's punk bands, Ten Foot Pole never really caught on and they never became big like Bad Religion, Offspring or Pennywise. Although they maintain a fairly loyal following, their fan base is still small and very few have heard from them recently. However, in 1994, when punk became big, Epitaph was THE epicenter for exploration into the genre. Before Epitaph released countless albums a year, they only released a few albums a year MAYBE. Ten Foot Pole's 1994 debut Rev was one of the few albums released in 1994, alongside punk juggernauts Offspring and NOFX. Rev, to this day, is a cult classic, and Ten Foot Pole's closest they ever got to becoming big.
What makes this album so different from other Ten Foot Pole albums is, of course, vocalist Scott Radinsky. The band has been around since the early 80's but this was their first recorded album as Ten Foot Pole (they were originally the nardcore band Scared Straight, but changed their name to avoid being labeled a straight edge band). Radinsky, who is famous for also being a major league baseball pitcher, was kicked out of the band in the mid 1990's. The addition of Radinsky often makes the difference of whether fans like the band, because the replacement vocalist led to the band having a much different sound.
Musically, this is punk rock in the Golden Age of the California scene. The music is somewhat aggressive and heavier than your standard pop punk band. The music is filled with straightforward, heavy power chord riffs and crazy drum fills. This music sounds like it was made for live shows, as it is rather difficult to sit still while listening to this music. Radinsky's notable vocals have this somewhat nasal sound to them (sorry but I seriously can never find a word to describe them). They are extremely melodic, and while this may turn some people off, if you digged Lagwagon or even Guttermouth, you should learn to accept his vocals.
The songs are simply catchy, but Ten Foot Pole has a distinct sound, mainly due to the vocal work of Radinsky. At times, it seems the vocals and musicianship are from complete different worlds, and they're meeting each other for the first time. Confused? Sounds like I'm on acid? Well, like I said, their sound is kind of hard to explain. The singing never gets really angry, nor is it happy go lucky sounding like NOFX's Punk in Drublic. Radinsky's vocals are so mellowed out that they paint a portrait of different emotions and meanings.
The vocal style and lyrics help develop the simple meanings of songs into much more complex subjects. There are songs dealing with relationships, such as "Muffled" and "Dying Duck in a Thunderstorm", that use references to external objects and places. "Broken Bubble" and "My Wall" are fast paced, in your face songs about the degradation of American society, yet in a refreshing way that sounds better than the old school punk way of complaining. "Old Man" is a dark sounding song, and due to the lyrical direction, the song is open up for many different interpretations. "Fade Away" and "Think of Tomorrow" are positive influenced songs, but are nothing along the lines of Pennywise. "Final Hours" takes shots at corporate heads in the music industry, and even possibly baseball.
Rev is a memorable album by a band that never took off (besides this album). Ten Foot Pole offer an aggressive skate punk album with distinct vocals and inspired lyrics that will lead you to playing this album on repeat.