Sound — 7
Keepin' 6 has been a band that I have always loved their sound. I've seen them live many times at local shows, and their sound always is the best of the night. They blend together so well. The effects on Jason's guitar are fresh and a good addition to the local skapunk scene. Dan and Matt are a tight rhythm section, and Bryan's unforgettable voice tops it off. Uncensored is Keepin' 6's debut record, at 11 tracks, but if you combine their previous two releases, you have a more solid 9 tracks. Not saying that the new tracks aren't good per se, but some tracks get a little redundant after a while, whereas in their earlier releases, the 6-Pack EP and their split with the Johnnstones, each track was extremely unique. I find that with this release a few of the songs are same-y, but the tracks that experiment are really cool. For example, "Look At Whatcha Got" has some nice sweep picking to start it off (not exactly something you'd expect from a ska band). The biggest complaint I have about this is that they re-recorded three songs from their first two releases. The new version of End Zone is kinda cool, changing it from the harmony guitar metal-punk from the 6-Pack EP to an almost-acoustic track, but the new recordings of Handle It and Step Back are not up to snuff with the original recordings. In fact, when I put the CD on my iTunes, I didn't even rip these new recordings and changed the track listing so that they weren't on there... I don't see why they had to fix what wasn't broken.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics of this release are usual Keepin' 6: they evoke emotion if you can understand them. Bryan's voice is very unique, suits their music well, and blends in very well, but oftentimes, it's near impossible to decipher what he is saying. They sing about the usual punk topics, with a very intelligent use of worse (usually): "Looking down at me with your superior eyes, but this is really me, I don't have to wear a disguise, so I hold my head up high cause I don't even have to try to contemplate myself," from "Handle It". Less "fun" topics in this one, like in "Never Gonna Get Us," (from 6-Pack) their skapunk anthem about "Just sitting down at the park, roll it up and I'm about to spark," until the police come. My biggest recommendation would be to not rely on using the word "f--k" in their lyrics, not because I'm offended, but because they come off as less intelligent than they really are. Sometimes it works and adds to the music, but after a while it can just take away from the music. Then again, it is usual Keepin' 6.
Overall Impression — 7
Opening the CD, I was extremely excited, just because Keepin' 6 was probably my favorite local ska band at the time, maybe even one of my favorite bands in general. This release, though very good, proves that they are human, and can make mistakes. I enjoy the cover art a lot, even though it is sort of stereotypical "punk", it suits the album. And the lyric sheet backed by the pictures of the band is pretty funny. The entire album is solid, with the exception of the rerecorded "Handle It" and "Step Back" which were much better on the "Johnstones VS Keepin' 6" split and the "6-Pack" EP respectively. I think that if I lost this CD, I may buy it again, seeing as the band sells it for $5 at their shows. If I were to have to buy it through HMV though, I wouldn't ($12), especially since I have it ripped to my computer and I bought it once. Overall, I would say that you should expose yourself to their first two releases, even though this one is likely the one you will hear, especially since 102.1 played "Scapegoat" a few weeks ago. Maybe Keepin' 6 is starting to break through to a larger audience, and I applaud them for that, but I really think their best sound is not in the "really ska" songs, but in the songs that they experiment with throwing in metal and punk touches. I think the band disowned this song, but there's a song called "Raise Your Glass" from the "Johnstones VS Keepin' 6" split and it may be their finest hour. In fact, the three tracks they contributed to that release are probably their finest hour, but maybe it set the standards too high for this album. It's still an excellent album, and I recommend checking the band out. Especially their live shows, they are quite the experience.