Pennywise - Reason to Believe CD Review ~ BrooklynRocks: NYC Music Blog

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Pennywise - Reason to Believe CD Review

Pennywise - Reason to Believe CD ReviewBefore getting into the music, I think it important to note that Pennywise broke ground with the distribution of their ninth album, Reason to Believe. The band made the album available as a free DRM-free, 320kbps MP3 download via MySpace. As far as I know, Pennywise is the first major act to make an album available to the general public as a high-quality download. (Before anyone mentions Radiohead, their ‘pay what you will’ download was very low quality). I read some complaints that Pennywise partnered with Textango and MySpace on the distribution. The reality is…why does it matter how the band distributed the music?

I should context this review by stating that I haven’t kept up with Pennywise’s career over the years so I can’t compare this release to any of their immediate prior. The last time I saw the band play live was 1994 when they opened for The Meatmen while touring behind “Unknown Road”. This new release, Reason to Believe, certainly seems comparable to “Unknown Road”.

While the music on this disc doesn’t stray far from Pennywise’s established 90’s SoCal skate punk sound, this is an enjoyable release. There are some ‘brushes’ with metal/hardcore but the band sticks with their formula of power-punk guitar crossed with breakneck drumming across most of the disc. Singer Jim Lindberg’s voice is mixed on top of the instruments and there are more call and response sing-a-longs, vocal harmonies and “whoas” than you would find in a Misfits tribute band. Lyrically, the band is just as pissed off as ever. Songs like “Western World” where the lyrics are “We are the dregs of the Western World, the steroid boys and video girls. We are the viral internet stars and the anchor man can’t stop crying. We are the dead with the dreaded disease, the nuclear sons of you and me” are pretty typical of what is on the band’s mind.

When listening to this CD, I kept hearing elements of mid-90’s Bad Religion. Try listening to this disc without thinking of Bad Religion’s “Recipe for Hate” or “Stranger Than Fiction”. This isn’t a bad thing though - fans of Pennywise or SoCal power-punk sound should enjoy this release.

Pennywise's MySpace Profile
Note: the old site now redirects to the band's MySpace page