This is a very strong self-titled debut album from The Living End, a power-punk trio from Melbourne, Australia. The lads gained a following after supporting Green Day on the Australian leg of a 1996 tour and haven’t looked back since.
The hard-hitting band forges bravely ahead through the punk renaissance, laying down track after track with verve and authority behind the vocals of Chris Cheney. “Prisoner of Society” and “Bloody Mary” are two of the strongest, but all 14 tracks are memorable.
Cheney’s full-speed and twangy guitar work is exceptional as The Living End sings about the ills of society, not with the quite the edge of The Clash or The Sex Pistols, but punky and infectious just the same.
It would be easy to write them off as Green Day Jr., three guys with a similar look and sound, but don’t let this album slide by. The Living End is a solid group on its own and should quickly find a receptive U.S. audience.
As someone whose punk-rock education came via the British invasion, my heart gave a slow, cool embrace to the early ’90s ruckus caused by Green Day and its ilk. Maybe my real hangup was that the band was missing the Brit-rock vocals I sorely wanted.
The Living End, a trio from Melbourne, Australia, isn’t the second coming of the Pistols, either, but their mix of pop-coated punk with a surf-rock edge rocks harder than their California brethren, has the requisite attitude and Anglo vocals to boot.
Singer-songwriter Chris Cheney’s vocals are amazingly similar to those of Dave Faulkner of 1980s Aussie rockers the Hoodoo Gurus. Cheney writes a compelling song, whether it’s about a true-life massacre of schoolchildren (Monday) or a fictional account of a man on Death Row (Second Solution). These high-energy tunes disguise otherwise somber themes, though the driving Trapped is a light-hearted number about politicians pursued by tomato-wielding constituents
This young band shuffles between ska punk, the surf punk of Rev. Horton Heat and the pre-swing guitar indulgences of Brian Setzer. Listen to Have They Forgotten, and it’s not surprising to know this band started off as a rockabilly outfit. The energy and versatility on this disc shows why it has gone double platinum in the band’s homeland.
If you think that punk’s best first single released to radio, the days are long gone, then The Living End is out to prove you wrong with its self-titled debut CD.
The Living End members seem to have almost every aspect of punk covered and somehow wrapped up in a very radio-friendly package. They manage to write catchy pop-punk songs in the vein of Bad Religion and Green Day, while incorporating ska, Oi! and rockabilly influences from bands such as the Skoildats, Inspector 7 and the Amazing Crowns.
What makes The Living End stand out from most punk bands is the great song writing. The members have managed to write an album full of catchy songs without sacrificing their punk edge or becoming excessively pop-y.
On “Prisoner of Society,” the first single released to radio, the band utilizes a double bass that lends the song a rockabilly twang, as well as incorporating a chorus that’s strong enough for any Oi! song.
This formula is evident on almost every song on the CD, but there’s enough variation between songs to make each unique.
For example, “Strange” is slowed down a bit to an almost jazzlike tempo and features a barrage of crunchy guitars, whereas “Trapped” is a perfect impression of Green Day playing ska-punk.
Overall, this is a strong debut that should bring the band both critical and commercial popularity. The Living End members have proved themselves prolific songwriters who should have plenty of hits to come.
This is easily one of the better punk releases in the past few years.
Tuneful punkers from Down Under, The Living End has been together since 1991 but is still trying to get a foothold in America. The 14 songs here run the gamut of punk rock cliches – raving guitars, shouted choruses, anti-establishment rants and songs about “being a brat” and not needing advice from anyone.
But there are also interesting surprises, such as the unexpected hook in the chorus for “Growing Up (Falling Down).” Or the guitar lick from “Bloody Mary” that’s reminiscent of the one in the Clash’s “Brand New Cadillac.” Solid work, but nothing you haven’t heard done a little bit better on any of Green Day’s albums.
Offspring Show Should Have Good Beginning With Living End
Author: Jeff Hall
If you’re going to the Offspring’s sold-out gig in Philly on Tuesday, get there early to check out The Living End, who will open up the concert with songs from their self-titled debut (Re- prise/Warner Bros.).
On “West End Riot,” Scott Owen’s hurtling basslines and the churning rhythms of drummer Trav Dempsy set the stage for frontman Chris Cheney’s strident electric guitar and barreling rally cries.
“Fly Away” recalls the hyper- kinetic vibe of Green Day, with the trio’s peppery punk delivery cast among corpulent bass/drum adrenaline and retro fretwork stylings. A particularly striking number is “Second Solution,” a smart mix of alt-rock and ironic Brit-pop twist crossed with swing sensibility.
The Living End performs at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Electric Factory, 7th and Willow streets, Phila. The headlining act is the Offspring. The other opening act is Zozomatli. The show is sold out. For details, call 338-9000.
The rise of Melbourne trio the Living End in the past two years has been meteoric, and this album knocked Cold Chisel off top spot in the charts to debut at number one. It opens with a familiar explosion, as Prisoner of Society has been well and truly adopted as yet another anthem of the disaffected, with its opening lines: “Well, we don’t need no one to tell us what to do.” With heavy doses of late 1970s British punk, some very Green Day-esque rock and singer Chris Cheney’s often cynical lyrics, this album revels in the rough edges. A highlight is the simple, catchy chorus of Growing Up (Falling Down), a song about learning from life’s blunders. The reggae-ska of Trapped with its horns and boppy beat allows Cheney’s voice to mellow for a moment, and the style changes to pop-rock on the energetic Save the Day. A fast fusion of many easy-to-spot influences. The Living End make an energetic start, but the repetitive style blurs the 14 songs, especially near the end.
YOU have to hand it to Melbourne trio The Living End for its capacity to put together an album’s worth of material on its self-titled debut. Essentially, the sort of post-punk musical territory in which The Living End operates is, as the band’s US counterpart Green Day has shown, an exercise in which three pots are being cooked on a twa-burner stove. There’s a fast approach, there’s loud/quiet/loud approach, there’s a pop approach. To their credit, Chris Cheney, Scott Owen and Trav Demsey know enough about their oeuvre to mix and match in order to sustain interest over 47 minutes. Cheney’s unrestrained vocal style is particularly good on the less punky tracks such as the swamp rocker Bloody Mary and the poppy Growing Up (Falling Down). Saleswise, this is one of Australia’s biggest contemporary bands. This promising effort will do well and enough skill is on show to suggest that, like other angry punk acts such as the Clash and Green Day. The Living End will add to its stylistic armory in the future.