Sound — 7
The Alkaline Trio, as always, comfortably find their sound between the current pop-punk contenders of today and the older punk contenders of yesteryear, specifically the Misfits. As many of you know, this CD/DVD is actually a compilation of many rare or hard-to-find Alkaline Trio tracks, with their Splits thrown on as well. Since many of the tracks offered are from earlier LPs and other tracks are songs that couldn't quite make it onto a recent release, the sound varies greatly. Some songs, like "My Standard Break from Life", sound like they could be a pre-90s punk rock sort of sound, while others, like "Buried", sound as though they were a post-Good Mourning recording. The problem with this is that they switch music styles quite often. A great example of this is that "Jaked on Green Beers", a fast, powerful, raw, F-you song comes right before "Queen of Pain", and emotional, depressing, melodic song. You've got "Dead End Road" right after "My Standard Break from Life". The song ordering on this album, for the most part, is very poor. They wanted to keep the Splits together and then tried to throw similar songs together in the breaks between the two splits. Not until the end of the album does this start working. Despite the poor ordering, the CD does attempt, at some parts, to keep the sound flowing, with most of the songs on the CD listed in chronological order (the only ones straying are those I've already mentioned). Still, no matter what the time period these songs come from, you can still tell that Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano are have a great deal of talent when it comes to writing their short, catchy breed of pop punk. Skiba still finds a way to make boring power-chord driven songs into unique harmonies, and Dan's work, especially in the earlier part of the Trio's career, follows the same example. As long-time Trio fans know, the Alk3 have never been a band with solos in their songs, and that stays true throughout this album. However, fills often times are placed in short spots during some tracks, and mange to make a difference in the song ("My Standard Break from Life" features an very catchy fill after each chorus). "Buried" shows a slight change from the typically Trio song and from Matt's usual work, which I was pleased by. The music, however, stays simple and adheres to the tried-and-true formula that this band has benefited from in the past. The only thing dragging this score down is poor ordering.
Lyrics — 8
This is one place the Trio have a tendency to get me pegged. Ranging from the topic of being insanely drunk to the topic of depressing love, the Alkaline Trio have really covered everything. Once again, as was with the music, you can tell a difference as the CD goes on, starting with very raw lyrics and moving to the aforementioned love songs. In "Jaked on Green Beers", you get lyrics like "There was a time when I thought you were a friend to me, I think those times I was probably just drunk, and if they offered a test about being a good friend, I'd put money down that you'd surely flunk... I hope this is goodbye." Meanwhile, in "Dead End Road", you'll get lyrics like "And forever ain't that long, when your smile's stuck in your head like a pop song, all you think about is death, your dirty head has gone unslept, for way too long now." And, in a song like "Hell Yes", you'll find the lyric "Bless me dark Father I have sinned, I've done it before and I'll do it again." Reading these lyrics while not set to music does them no justice, I realize. Most of their lyrics aren't complex, but are very effective when combined with the chord progression they happen to be executing at that given moment. The Trio's lyrics are the things I most identify with on any of their albums, and I continue to enjoy them to this day.
Overall Impression — 8
In "Remains", you get a taste of everything. Satanic songs, political songs, depression songs, F-you songs, and a few extra live songs just for your listening pleasure. Admittedly, when I bought this album I already owned every song on it, so it's nothing new to me. However, for those of you that are beginning Trio fans or own only the main albums, this is a great addition to your library. Also, since the bonus DVD packaged with the CD includes all of the major music videos and several hours of the Trio on the road, those familiar with all songs on this album may still want to pick it up. The varying music on the earlier part of the album may throw off some beginning Trio fans, but with luck the catchy, lyrical-driven songs will pull them back in and keep them along for the ride. It was also nice to see "Warbrain" established on an actual Trio album, instead of on a "Various Artists" compilation. It continues to be one of my favorite Trio songs, and perhaps the best on this album, so if you're new to the Alkaline Trio, be sure to give it a listen. To be honest, I didn't feel that they needed to include their split albums on this CD, and they could have had at least one or two songs cut off of them (especially the split with One Man Army). However, this album is (of course) a must-own for any big Trio fan, as you'll get all of the rarities you've likely downloaded but never gotten on an album. The two disappointments I had with this album were 1. Poor track ordering, and 2. They didn't include the song Demons Away, which is an acoustic and piano track by Matt Skiba released on some obscure benefit compilation. Besides these two issues, this is an enjoyable listen with a lot of tracks that are bound to get stuck in your head for a few weeks.