Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes Review

artist: Social Distortion date: 01/24/2011 category: compact discs
Social Distortion: Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes
Released: Jan 18, 2011
Genre: Punk rock, cowpunk, rockabilly
Label: Epitaph
Number Of Tracks: 11
Age can deteriorate many traits and after battling to give a record a voice and two legs, Social Distortion haven't shown any signs of vulnerability.
 Sound: 9
 Lyrics: 7.5
 Overall Impression: 8
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reviews (2) 15 comments vote for this album:
overall: 9
Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes Reviewed by: Nick Curleo, on january 24, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Social Distortion has been evolving since day one, each album getting further away from their punk rock roots and moving more and more into rockabilly territory. There isn't much punk sound to be found on this album (if any). Instead there is quite a bit of a country and blues that they channel into their songs. The way way I would describe this album is incredibly roots-y. It may not be the Social D my dad grew up with, but it's a natural progression in the direction they've been going, and I personally really like it. The opening song, "Road Zombie" is very appropriately titled. It feels like I should be listening to it while driving down a long desert road for mile after mile. // 10

Lyrics: The lyrics deal with loneliness, lost love, 1930's gangsters, how the band is still alive and kicking and how much the city of Bakersfield sucks (for those of you who haven't been there, the answer is a lot). The song "Can't Take It With You" is kind of existential in that it covers the topic of how money and hard work doesn't matter, cause when you're dead you're just dead: 'All your money, your hard earned pay/It don't mean shit, babe at the end of the day.' Overall, the lyrics are basically the standard fare you'd expect from Social Distortion, which I wouldn't say is a bad thing. // 8

Overall Impression: This album is without a doubt not their most powerful. It doesn't get in your face like Mommy's Little Monster, or get the blood pumping quite like White Light, White Heat, White Trash, but it should definitely not be missed. I would say the best three songs on this album are the instrumental ("Road Zombie"), "Still Alive," and "Can't Take It With You" simply because they've got the most energy. This album really put me in a good mood. Whether it's because Social D finally put out some new material or because it's really good (which I think it is), I don't know. My only complaint is the pace of about half the songs. They're a little slow, and that's something I'd have differently. I'd definitely buy the album again if I lost it and hadn't saved it to the computer. And you should buy it too, it's more than worth the ten bucks. // 9

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overall: 7.3
Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes Reviewed by: UG Team, on january 24, 2011
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: It's their first LP since 2004. It's their first album issued by Epitaph. Though it would be only fitting, it's not the first release by Social Distortion to dig up punk rock roots and spray it all over 40 minutes of material. Having been created in 2006, Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes is almost a legend in itself. The record tore through four different drummers (including Atom Willard) and forced singer/guitarist Mike Ness to toy with different sounds and influences. The voice behind Social Distortion did promise it wouldn't take eight years to be released, but low and behold, the seventh studio album sports a seven-year waistline and if you tear through the restless creativity behind it, it's obvious it was worth it. A short burst of classic alt rock, "Road Zombie" infects as a opener, starting simple, cascading into a vicious melody that would spark chaos in the mind of some and push that "go mosh" button. Fueled by early New York 70s' punk, the disc is capable of being a complete riot but it isn't; Ness and co. are a bit older, wiser and eager to don a blues voice ("California (Hustle And Flow)", "Diamond In The Rough"). The pace isn't frantic, but it's grizzled. The melodies aren't pipe bombs, but they have a razor sharp sweet touch. Look past the aging scars and there's enough evidence of pure chemistry ("Machine Gun Blues") and a taste for experimenting with a rugged rockabilly sound ("Can't Take It With You"). // 8

Lyrics: Punk voices are intelligent, sophisticated individuals with the ability to be bold, inspiring and raw without erupting. A rejuvenated spirit, Mike Ness is an example and the lines he preaches on Hard Times stop time, but only for a few seconds. The concept behind the album will strike a chord with listeners, the heartache may do the complete opposite. Not to say a track like "Bakersfield" isn't satisfying to the ear; the since expression tied with each member's input of honesty works. The abundance of youthful angst pushed through a not-so-delicate tone doesn't after a few listens. "She promised to honor, to love and obey," claims Ness on "Alone And Forsaken". "Each vow was a plaything that she threw away". The sappy texture of the frontman's composition is expected from scene acts trying to imposter alternative rock's best, not the latter themselves. Where they slip, Social Distortion regain their balance going the basic route: no vocal experimentation, no obscene battle cries, just ferocity in a classic sense. // 7

Overall Impression: Age can deteriorate many traits and after battling to give a record a voice and two legs, Social Distortion haven't shown any signs of vulnerability. The latest lineup takes their classic sound, douses it in the same image they've been using for years and bruises with blues punk rhythms that are simple and enticing at times. Even without looking at its make-up, Hard Times And Nursery Rhymes satisfies your expectations. It doesn't offer less, sometimes gives you more and exemplifies a strong tie that's represented a name for over thirty years. If the new label isn't a sign, Social Distortion have made their bed, they're just not ready to sleep it in yet. // 7

- Joshua Khan (c) 2011

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