Released: Oct 20, 1998
Styles: Punk Revival, Post-Grunge, Third Wave Ska Revival, Ska-Punk
Number Of Tracks: 17
Excellently executed, flawlessly performed, these songs embody an era of Reel Big Fish that is slightly different from the Turn the Radio Off era.
Why Do They Rock So Hard?
Jimbo/Slash, on august 26, 2005 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Personally, this is for me the best ska album. All Reel Big Fish's albums are great, but this is the one, the best. Some fans may not agree, saying 'Turn The Radio Off' was better with songs such as 'Sell Out' and 'Beer', but whilst these were the highlights of that album, this has a better overall standard. The sound is a great mix of catchy ska with the trumpets and offbeat ska rhythms, and rock 'n' roll, with some great guitar work on this album. Aaron Barret sure can play the guitar. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics are typical Reel Big Fish - sarcastic. But that's why it's great. Too many bands take themselves too seriously, the Fish don't. Aaron is a great singer and suits the music, and never does his voice become annoying. Plus they got this other cool singer in the background called Scott whose vocals compliment Aarons. // 8
Overall Impression: What gets me about this album is the overall quality. Whist 'Turn The Radio Off' had great songs, some of it really wasn't that great. But I never skip a track on this one. Best song - Down In Flames. Not to everyone's taste, but I love this song. If lost or stolen I would cry like a little baby, but I would be pretty upset. // 10
Why Do They Rock So Hard?
unregistered, on october 02, 2006 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: "Why Do They Rock So Hard?" was RBF's third full length album and had the enormous task of following up the highly rated Turn The Radio Off. This album demonstrates the band dabbling with different genres, as well as playing the hooky ska-punk that made them famous. The horns sound bright and raspy and the unique vocal harmonies(listen to the band to see what I mean) of Aaron and Scott sound pleasant as always. The guitar sounds well mixed and really shines when played with distortion, giving it a full, punchy sound. // 8
Lyrics: 01. Somebody Hates Me - punchy guitar opens the album well, but inevtiably RBF soon turn on the ska sound to good effect. Good start.
02. Brand New Song - RBF hint at a darker, heavier song with a mock-rock, slightly metallic style. 30 seconds in, however, they reveal their comic side by somehow twisting the song into major key, amazingly catchy ska. Great horn work and irresistable melodies make this song an album highlight.
03. She's Famous Now - a more rock oritentated song. Blasts of horn work are more infrequent but used well to add some punch to the song. Good all-rounder, although I've listened to it too many times to appreciate it fully.
04. You Don't Know - unusually for RBF, their attempt to make me laugh failed miserably. Musically the song is fine, but the lyrics do nothing for me and this sounds like a filler song.
05. The Set Up (You Need This) - the album's single. Features great guitar work from Aaron and bright horn melodies. The song is unashamedly poppy, with plenty of keyboards, oo-ahhs and less horns than perhaps fans would have liked. A decent song, although this too has suffered from being overplayed for me personally.
06. Thank You For Not Moshing - brilliant song with reggae verses, ska choruses and a great trumpet solo. Extremely sarcastic, lyrically and musically this is RBF on top form. An album highlight.
07. I'm Cool - an old RBF song re-worked. Previously it was a loud, incoherent mess. Now they've slowed it down and given it a chilled out, reggae feel to it the song works well. Not one to listen to if you want to skank, but an underrated song with one of the album's best lines: "'Cause there's so many fish in the sea, and they all look like me. I'm just a little tiny fish, that's all I'll ever be."
08. I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend Too - RBF by numbers here folks. A very catchy melody, a bouncy chorus, memorable horn lines and simple lyrics that many people can relate to. Look out for a tasty guitar solo at the end. Another album highlight.
09. Everything Is Cool - sounds like filler to me I'm afraid. The cool bridge saves this song from being a skippable song, but this is a poor song, despite a bouncy ska chorus.
10. Song #3 - RBF parody the reggae and dub genres with surprisingly good results. A very relaxed song with meandering bass lines provided by Matt Wong and a steady drum beat. Well mixed.
11. Scott's A Dork - upon my first few listens of this album, I unbelievably neglected this song. Very catchy chorus with great horn work throughout. Look out for the key change near the end. Yet another album highlight.
12. Big Star - disappointing. I still feel that RBF could have done much more with this song. Most of this is acoustic guitar and xylophone, which is perfectly fine. When the band wakes up and kicks the song into fifth gear, I really thought this song would blow me away. The horns, however, are sorely underused and there's a lack of lead guitar. Shame. Still a good listen but this could have been so much more.
13. The Kids Don't Like It - kicks off with a cool drum roll and bright horn work, but other than that the song doesn't stand out much. A good song which provides more oppertunities for people to skank and lyrically the song has a good message, but this song falls into the RBF by numbers trap.
14. Down In Flames - in my opinion, this is the RBF equivalent of Master Of Puppets or Stairway To Heaven. Down In Flames shows Reel Big Fish experimenting with arrangement and style(the bridge and the song's conclusion demonstrate this), which is refreshing to hear. The complicated horn lines, the smooth lead guitar lick and the wandering bass guitar all come together to make a superb song. The lyrics are the highlight of this song: "When this blows over and the mainstream coughs up another show will you let us back in your underground. Well I guess that's a no and that's just as well because you never supported us; all you wanted was to see us fail." RBF at their scathing best, taking shots at the critics who have shunned them for "selling out".
15. We Care - after the sentiment of the previous song, We Care puts the album in danger of having an overly emotional end to the album. The song is bitter as you would expect from RBF, but they also thank their fans through this song which means that this song automatically gets an 8/10. Musically, the song is alright but nothing special.
16. Victory Over Peter Bones - not their best instrumental but still worth listening to. Poor choice of song to end the album with. // 8
Overall Impression: While it didn't quite escape the shadow of its predecessor, Why Do They Rock So Hard is a fantastic album which shows RBF diversifying their sound and solidifying their reputation as one of the greatest ska bands of all three waves (Yeah, I said it). The best songs on this album(I'm aware that I already told you) are: Brand New Song, Thank You For Not Moshing, I Want Your GF To Be My GF Too, Scott's A Dork and Down In Flames. Why do Reel Big Fish rock so hard? They just do. If you don't believe me, buy this album as well as Turn The Radio Off. // 8
Why Do They Rock So Hard?
E~Rock, on august 17, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Reel Big Fish is the only ska band I listen to, this being my favorite album of theirs. Aaron Barrett is an amazing guitar player, able to hop from traditional up-stroking to melodic riff-driven rock in seconds. Put a talented horn line behind him and an excellent rhythm section and you have a formidable force.
I like to examine ska from a jazz perspective. Although third wave ska may not have very noticeable jazz influences, early ska sounds can be traced to traditional latin jazz. Fast syncopated rhythms and blaring horns have slowly transformed through the decades into the ska upstroking and horn riffs of what we hear in certain strains of this genre. From this angle, Why Do They Rock So Hard? Is full of all sorts of jazzy treats. The tight horn harmonies and rhythms never cease to keep me wanting more, and the trombone and trumpet solos throw me right back into a smoky club in Cuba. The real treat on this album is the song "Victory Over Peter Bones," a beautiful jazz ballad lingering on the last track of the album. The chord changes and solos make this song a Real Book candidate while the injections of explosive rock keep it within it's bounds. It is a treat to close the album with.
The rest of the album is upbeat and driving. The use of the horn line as a counter-melody is a delightful treat and adds that much more musicality to the melody driven music. The guitar and horns are equally impressive and perfectly complimentary. // 10
Lyrics: The lyrics of this album are fun and catchy, and it won't take long for you to find yourself singing along to this entire album. The songs have punchlines written into them both lyrically and musically, making for a very harmonious lyrical experience. Personally I am not a huge ska fan and am pleased to find an absense of weed references, although for a little Jamaica throwback (ja mon!) Coolie Ranx makes an appearance on "Song #3." The depiction of your average mosher in "Thank You For Not Moshing" is also hilarious in its honesty ("Got my wife beater on, steel toe Doc Martins on my feet, I run around in a little circle, I'm wonderin' who to beat"). // 8
Overall Impression: Beyond the jazzy Easter Eggs, the album is upbeat, fun, and the perfect remedy to any case of boredom. The melodies are rediculously catchy, the words light and funny, and the whole thing is simply a joy.
This album is insatiably fun and completely dance-friendly, even if you have no dancing skills whatsoever. And behind its fun and happy exterior lies a group of extremely talented jazz musicians exploring the boundaries of their genre. I would not call this a ska album as much as I would call it an exploration into powerpop/jazz fusion. If there's a ska album you need in your collection, this is it. // 10