Sound — 4
Self Defense Family, formerly known as End Of A Year, is a post punk band who has released more EPs and splits than albums. "Try Me" is the band's first album in four years, making it their first under the Self Defense Family moniker. The band became a "family" in 2011, when it changed its name and added new band members, so many in fact, that the band now has two touring groups.
Self Defense Family's new album is even more unique than their background. The album is ten tracks and over an hour long. If you're thinking that sounds odd for a punk band, then you're right. In fact, two of the ten tracks are not songs, but parts of an interview with a 1980s porn star named Jeanna Fine. To be honest, I didn't listen through the entire thirty-eight minutes of the interview because it was fairly stagnant and I had tuned in to find some good music anyway.
Sadly, there isn't find much of that on this album. To the best of my knowledge, most of the chords used are power chords or octave chords. These chords vary little throughout the album, though the song structures may be somewhat eclectic. Dynamics are lacking, even when the band attempts to create them with periods of feedback or periods of quiet versus loud guitars. They missed opportunities to create rising action and then exploit it. Of course, Self Defense Family might find this technique too overdone, but they never replace it with anything else, thus failing to provide much interesting music.
The one place of interest for the listener is the ten-minute song (drone) called "Dingo Fence." It begins with a conversation between the singer and another band member over whether to sing "all the dumb cunts that get what they want" or "all the dumb cops that get what they want" with "all the dumb cocks that get what they want."
By the end of the minute and a half long conversation, more hilarity has ensued than in the entire fifteen minutes or so I had listened to the interview of the porn star. Unfortunately, the song deteriorates from there. The actual "music" part of the song starts with a verse, which then transitions into a six-minute drone where the singer repeats the above phrases over and over again, sometimes changing his intensity, usually not. An uninteresting wall of feedback and a few quiet parts basically take up the rest of the song.
Overall, every part of the sound of this album is forgettable/boring, especially its production, which gives the album an awful recorded-in-a-garage sound (and obviously not Dave Grohl's garage).
Lyrics — 4
The singer on the album is not much better than the musicians. He less sings than he does talk. His voice is rather croaky and sounds like an overstretched punk singer's voice, which is a vocal persona that really does not fit the music.
Lyrically, the singer is no better, relying on repeated phrases that have little relation to one another. The lyrics sound like inane ramblings, which, again, do not fit the music. Add to that the fact that the vocals are horribly inputted into the mix, and you have one big recipe for boredom and meaninglessness.
Overall Impression — 4
I, in my considered opinion, believe that this first album for the renamed Self Defense Family is a failure. Though the production awfully hinders the music, I fear that the music would not have come out much better if the producer had been a bit more scrupulous. The interview with the '80s porn star does not really fit my taste either, though it may fit yours.
Overall, this album seems like a rushed, poorly thought out misadventure.