Overlooked Albums Are Worth A Listen

Author: Alan Sculley

The Living End, “Roll On” (Reprise Records).

Drawing inspiration from first wave punkers like the Clash and the Buzzcocks (plus a bit of Rancid), the Living End play with passion and verve to spare, and pack their songs with hooks as fat as the guitar riffs that drive the songs. Sometimes it’s great to rock like it was 1978.


Author: Kathryn Tucker

The Living End: Roll On

There aren’t many bands out there today that can mix punk and rock ability and make it sound good. It doesn’t exactly go together, but the guys of The Living End pull it off nicely.

On its latest album, Roll On, The Living End keeps its gritty edge while sounding more cohesive. This CD has great energy and is one that you can listen to over and over again.

This Australian band has been together for seven years with Chris Cheney on guitar and lead vocals, Scott Owen on upright bass and Travis Demsey on drums. Cheney writes about rebellion, protest, rioting, human angst and a lot of drinking.

On “Uncle Harry,” which basically talks about a lonely old man who drinks too much and relieves himself in his bath, it’s apparent that these guys have the brash spirit of punk, much like the Sex Pistols, in them.

Although not all the songs are about drinking, most have some reference to it. Take, for instance, “Staring at the Light” “Some may relish in the afterlife, dancing slowly on the edge of a knife, sipping wine of the poisonous kind, overdose on loneliness”

The Living End’s original sound and dirty vocals have gotten it quite a following. Many fans are big-name bands such as Blink 182, Silverchair, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Rancid.

The Living End’s Roll On with its infectious choruses and great electric guitar riffs is definitely an album to get if you’re in the mood to listen to some really awesome punk. But one thing you should know: They are nowhere close to sounding like Blink 182, so if that’s the kind of so-called punk you like, look elsewhere.


From Down Under, TLE’s Newest More Of What We’ve Heard Before

Author: L.A. Tarone

You’d sort of expect a band named The Living End to be at least a touch retro. After all, the phrase “the living end” is a somewhat dated expression to say someone or something is exceptional. You know, “Tuesday Weld is the living end!”

When the three Melbourne school chums (singer/guitarist Chris Cheney, bassist Scott Owen and drummer Travis Demsey) formed, they tried to be an Aussie Stray Cats – the early ’80s trio who sounded 50s rockabilly but dressed in standard ’80s garb. They played something resembling rockabilly, and even used an upright bass, as their heroes did. They copied the Cats’ look. But by the time they formed (their high school senior year, 1994), it was dated.

TLE first got attention in clubs around Melbourne. They attracted enough attention to get the primo gig of opening for Green Day when they toured Australia in 1996. After that tour ended. TLE cut their first recording, an EP called “Hellbound.” Late the next year, after another tour as an opening act, they recorded their second EP “It’s For Your Own Good.”

Their first Aussie hit came in 1998, when “Prisoner of Society” made the top five down under. That was enough to get notice here. Reprise Records signed them and issued their first two EPs together as one CD in the summer of 1998. In early 1999, their first full album. “The Living End,” was issued.

It has taken over two years for a follow-up. “Roll On” was issued recently.

The in-between time was mostly spent touring. TLE was on the Australian road until last summer. They then joined the Warped Tour for 10 shows here.

Afterward, they went back home and hit the studio to cut this disc. The basic tracks were finished a year ago. But they spent the next near-year designing the disc’s artwork and having the basics remixed by veteran producer Jerry Finn.

But by now, all the rockabilly traces, except the standup bass, are gone. The sound is all late 70s “punk.” much like their Aussie forefathers The Saints. But where that group used horns and other added instruments, TLE slams their way through everything with your basic three-piece outfit.

Cheney and Owen split lead vocals on virtually every cut.

“Roll On” is a Green Day-esque smasher. though the Aussie accents are obvious. The backup vocals are sung like a military choral group. It’s a pro-union song, though I take it to be about a specific incident, which is unknown here.

“Pictures In the Mirror” is another slammer and the most Saints-like. The chorus has a neat hook, while verses are melodic, though played at breakneck pace.

Feedback starts “Riot on Broadway,” and we’re in for more of the same – a 90-mph slammer with another hooky chorus. It’s angry, but never states at and over what.

“Staring At The Light” is another slammer, albeit a tad bit slower.

“Carry Me Home” takes a stab at an “arena rock” sound. But, after the metalish intro, it turns into another banger. Lyrics are a homage to getting drunk (“All you need is alcohol, step right up and be a man… freedom’s just another open bottle anyway…I want another round so bring it on it’s my shout…”). It doesn’t seem to be sarcasm, but it’s hard to take it seriously.

The riff which opens “Don’t Shut The Gate” sounds like a lead part played over and again.

Lyrics are more a rhyme of “ion” words than anything else, “isolate for protection, put a gate on detention.” then. “separation, correction, selection, apprehension.” Rather than saying much using few words, they say nothing. It’s played well, and the bridge is sort of clever. But, it’s far from awe-inspiring.

“Dirty Man” is another late 70s slammer. This time, it sounds like “Give ‘Em Enough Rope Clash.

TLE makes a pitch to change the pace with “Blood On Your Hands.” It’s pseudo-reggae the way the Police was, but harder and with a sharper edge. But that’s in verses only. Bridges and the chorus are slammed through again.

“Revolution Regained” is more venting than anger. Lyrics say nothing and come off as more of an “I’m angry!” pose than anything else. The sound is sharp yet poppish. But the effect is more dare than statement.

“Silent Victory” starts with a change in sound, as the fuzz pedal is gone. But lyrics meander. At one point, it’s a love song (she said you’re a substitute, she said can’t you see we’re through”). Elsewhere it’s a battle anthem” (“we won’t surrender until the end… won’t someone hear the battle cry”).

“Read About It” is probably the best lyric here. It’s about the fascination people have with the Sons of Sam and Jeffrey Dahmers of the world: “You and I we read about it, we idolize the criminal mind, is there a method in our madness, and we fanaticize of committing crimes…” The song’s structure is another slammer, with some uneven lines and breaks.

“Killing the Right” almost sounds like “Read About It. part two.” What right is killed is never explained, though there are vague references to the voices in his head. Sound is, again, pretty neat. But it doesn’t say anything

“Astoria Paranoia” is probably the best thing here. Lyrics are about excessive paranoia resulting in a breakdown. It’s played well, with some hooks and twists, though the “insanity” thing wears thin.

“Uncle Harry” again talks about insanity. this time in a purposelessly nasty way. TLE makes fun of Harry as he urinates in the bathtub. “Oh Uncle Harry we really shouldn’t laugh. but every time we turn around, you’re p****ing the bath… It changes tempo three times which is sort of inventive.

“Prisoner of Society” is a supposed “youth anthem,” but it says nothing you haven’t heard before: “I’m a brat, and I know everything, and I talk back… We don’t need no-one to tell us what to do.” There’s speed and (I suppose) anger, but that’s not the same as fire. There’s none of that.

This enhanced disc has very average videos for “Mirrors” and “Prisoner.”

The Living End is not without pluses. They play well. Guitarist Cheney is lightning fast. Drummer Demsey is terrific. I love the flat “bang” he gets.

Reviewers have been falling over themselves praising their mix of ska, reggae, rockabilly and punk. But, there is no mix on “Roll On.” Instead, they come off as another “punk” band like so many others.

Their quasi-leftist political stance has no conviction. Lyrics are irate, but aren’t overly clever. And there’s something prefab about their “anger.” Only in spots do they explain what they’re angry about.

TLE is competent, but it’s nothing you haven’t heard before. Twenty years ago, there were so many bands that sounded alike, it’s hard to remember all their names (Sham 69. Agent Orange. Anti Nowhere League, Code Blue). And most had more conviction.

So, none of this is new. Little of it is all that interesting.

Six and a half out of 10.

Up From Down Under

Author: Glen Cambea

Not since the heyday of INXS and Men at Work in the ’80s has there been such a splash about bands from Australia. Here’s a guide to some of the acts making waves:


CD: Odyssey Number Five (Universal)

Aussie version of: Britpop heroes like Oasis and Blur, with some fun-loving Aussie rockstar swagger thrown in.

Prospects: First single, My Happiness, already is climbing the rock charts, and the album is chock full of potential hits.


CD: Reflector (Universal)

Aussie version of: No Doubt, with punk tinge replacing Gwen and friends’ ska flavor.

Prospects: Videogenic teen singer Ella Hooper and guitarist Jessie Hooper will likely score some buzz with the jangle rock/power-pop hybrid Weir or the driving Mascara.


CD: The Captain (Asylum)

Aussie version of: Alt-country darlings like Shelby Lynne and Lucinda Williams.

Prospects: Cry Like a Baby already is getting Chambers attention on American stations. The Lucindaish You Got the Car also should get some play.


CD: Roll On (Reprise)

Aussie version of: Pop-leaning punks like Rancid and MxPx, with a healthy dose of The Clash.

Prospects: The catchy title track has landed the trio on the David Letterman and Conan O’Brien shows. The album (produced by Matt Wallace of Nirvana fame) will likely become a long-term staple on modern-rock radio.


CD: The Polyester Embassy (Columbia)

Aussie version of: Dance acts like Daft Punk and Modjo.

Prospects: Don’t Call Me Baby already is a dance floor hit, and Who the Hell Are You? recently hit No. 1 on the dance chart.

Roll On

Author: Mark Robison

The Living End
“Roll On”; Reprise

These Aussies have such a varied sound that the best way to describe them would be in relation to three other great bands from Down Under. They fall somewhere in the middle of the power- pop of Split Enz, the guitar bluster of AC/DC and the political fire of Midnight Oil-only punk.

The disc is too long at 52 minutes, and the best tracks are stacked in the first half. But these blokes are on to something.

■RIYL: early Cheap Trick, Midnight Oil, the Clash, Dropkick Murphys, Green Day, Rancid

Living End’s New Roll On Proves Punk’s Still Alive

Author: John Thomason

The Living End: Roll On (Atlantic)

When you’re flipping through the CD racks and come across Roll On from Australia natives the Living End, give it a listen. You’ll be missing out on a rare feat if you chalk up the band’s second album as another trendy MTV punk band.

The Living End goes where not many bands in the punk scene have gone since Bad Religion’s mid-1990s break- through with Atlantic Records. The Living End manages to provide thought-provoking and innovative punk on a major label – who woulda thunk it?

The Aussie trio fuses street punk, rockabilly and metal, sugarcoated with catchy melodies. As unique as this hybrid sounds, the band’s many influences are obvious. But instead of the Living End sounding like a rehashed version of prominent bands of the past, the group is a refreshing and one-of-a-kind amalgamation of 25 years of punk.

No two songs sound alike, and the production quality is crisp and sonically ear-aweing. Rare albums like this prove major labels aren’t always a punk rock faux pas.

Trying to pinpoint the Living End’s sound is like trying to find the most annoying MTV VJ-there are just too many options.

On the one hand, there are obvious similarities to the Clash. Many of the Living End’s songs deal with social/political angst and center around rebellion and overpowering government – Prisoner of Society, Revolution Regained, Silent Victory, Riot on Broadway. Also like the Clash they sing about the sordid state of politics, yet fully support capitalism by releasing their record on a major label. The only thing they lack is the Clash’s tongue-in-cheek humor. Both bands go beyond the realm of three-chord punk and add zest and uniqueness to each song – they aren’t afraid to experiment, slipping in and out of more genres than a Robert De Niro movie marathon. The Living End could be deemed a modern-day Clash if it weren’t for the equally prominent Green Day influences. The band that has seemingly influenced every punker with an electric guitar and a dream for the last decade has also influenced the more mainstream, radio-friendly side of the Living End. Dirty Man is filled with choppy guitars and breathtaking hooks, and Pictures in the Mirror has more sweet harmonies than Green Day at its finest. It’s the accents that match up the most, however. The Australian twang is oddly but strongly reminiscent of Billie Joe Armstrong’s phony wannabe vocals.

And beyond that, it’s anything goes. Uncle Harry is just a fast, loud, barroom-friendly ditty in the obvious vein of the Dropkick Murphys.

Then there’s Carry Me Home – this song just ROCKS. It’ll lighten up any dead mosh pit, and the metallic, grinding riffs would impress everyone from Dave Mustaine to Henry Rollins. The best track on the CD is a polished piece of post-punk aggression that could have been taken right from a Fugazi recording, Don’t Shut the Gate.

If Living End is forgotten in a few months, it’s probably fitting. The message is too strong, and frankly the group is too talented for MTV and the radio.

Big Break

Author: Unknown

What: The Living End
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Cane’s, 3105 Oceanfront, San
Cost: $10
Information: (858) 488-1780

“Roll On,” the latest LP from acclaimed Australian rockabilly-punk rockers The Living End is being billed as the album to finally break the band stateside.

Huge in their native land, The Living End has earned themselves a following among the skate-core kids who saw them on 1999’s Warped Tour.

Those kids made their anthem “Prisoner of Society,” which continues to turn up in a handful of movie trailers (see “Cheaters”), the biggest selling single out of Australia in the 1990s. Not that they had too much competition, but. that’s not the point. The point is even Green Day could learn a few things from these guys.

Roll On

Author: Marc Weingarten

LIVING END, “Roll On” (Reprise)

The members of this Aussie trio may come on like Fosters-swilling roughnecks, but the power of their punk derives from. supple song craft driven by strong-arm horsepower. From the title track, a fanfare for the common man that borrows the Clash’s street-corner populism, to ripped- from-the-tabloids screeds such as “Read About It,” the Living End lives up to its hyperbolic moniker. 5312

Roll On

Author: Marc Weingarten

The Living End
“Roll On”

The members of this Aussie trio may come on like Fosters-swilling roughnecks, but the power of their punk derives from supple song craft driven by strong-arm horsepower. From the title track, a fanfare for the common man that borrows the Clash’s street-corner populism, to rip

Roll On

Author: John Everson

The Living End
Roll On

If you’re thirsty for some late ’70s, early ’80s leaning punk rock, check out the latest by the Australian trio The Living End. Originally a rockabilly band, the Melbourne natives have moved to a faster, harder attack over the past five years, bringing to mind the early work of Bad Religion, The Clash, and Green Day. The band has been on the road as openers with Green Day, Blink 182 and The Offspring, and the influence of all those modern punk bands (as well as some manic harmonies with Beatles roots) is readily apparent throughout Roll On, the band’s followup to its 1998 self- titled debut and two prior EPs. While not particularly ground- breaking rock, for anyone with a penchant for that classic U.K. punk sound from the age of The Sex Pistols, The Living End nails it well on Roll On, delivering high octane gems in the title track, “Pictures in the Mirror,” and “Riot on Broadway.” This is fist-pounding, chant-with-every-chorus punk rock.