Monday, February 13, 2006

Somewhere In the Swamps of CD Reviews

"Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey"
(Jade Tree)

Lifetime is your classic punk tale: band gets together, writes unrelentlessly furious songs, tours a bunch, gets signed, label does not support band, band breaks up, people discover band, new bands are successful by ripping of old band's sound. It happened with the Sex Pistols, Operation Ivy and countless others. Lifetime is the latest in formerly unappreciated bands who are finally getting their due thanks to many bands such as Saves the Day, Brand New, Fall Out Boy and Taking Back Sunday admitting to their shameless Xerox versions of the former band's music.

Jade Tree, who historically led Lifetime to the slaughter for the Promise Ring, is using this current interest in the band to release a collection of out-of-print materials and b-sides in the form of "Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey." And with Lifetime's recent announcement to reunite as a functioning band, this compilation probably serves as a pre-cursor for all the great music that the band will release in the future.

In the meantime, however, we're left with two discs worth of material, mostly culled from Lifetime's earliest days. The songs from "Background" are perhaps the most interesting because they are far darker than what would follow on "Hello Bastards" and "Jersey's Best Dancers." "Background" actually appears on this three times: on the first disc, the songs are remixed and the second disc bares the original recording, plus live versions of all the songs. If not for Lifetime's rabid fanbase, one would consider this slightly masturbatory.

Included are four remixed tracks that appear on the Jade Tree albums, which are pretty unnecessary. These alternate versions aren't nearly as good as the album versions. Ari Katz's vocals sound like they're being processed through a tin can, giving it that weird Beastie Boys effect.

Unlike Kid Dynamite's "Cheap Shots, Youth Anthems" compilation, Lifetime's "Swamps" is pretty much exclusively for the people who were into Lifetime before The Movielife came out as a tribute band. Whereas on "Cheap Shots," a person who'd never heard Kid Dynamite could listen to any song and pretty much gauge their style, "Swamps" serves as a way to hear the band before they were signed to Jade Tree. There aren't enough songs from the Jade Tree-era to really show Lifetime's growth in the seven years they were around. Any kid who has this compilation as their first taste of the band would probably think that Lifetime was the worst band.

As stated before, this is pretty much for the diehard fans, and nobody else.

[PS: My promo didn't come with the book. Thanks to Jade Tree for making me go out and buy it, bastards]


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