Saturday, June 11, 2011

'Short Changed' Triple-Album Review

Anyone who knows me knows how picky I am. Especially when it comes to punk.

However, a package came for me today and its contents more than satiated my punk cravings. After years of dealing with bands trying to take an approach toward hardcore punk and having it end up almost being silly 'almost-metalcore', I am finally glad to find something heavy, bold, and aware of its roots. And thair album art is AWESOME, featuring creative pirate themes.

So, I figured I'd do a favor or two, and review all three releases.

The first release I spun, the self-titled CD, includes a cover art of a decaying ghost pirate holding a skateboard and a pizza. Oh my lord, yes. This album appears courtesy of Rodent Popsicle Records.

What we have here is a nearly twenty-minute-long barrage of aggressive, relentless, energetic, well-executed, and HEAVY hardcore punk. Guitars so loud they nearly drown out the drums, but with a good mixing, and vocals that make me want to just take a breath every two seconds and be relieved I'm not attempting them. With occasional humor, including snippets of members commenting on the recording of the songs being difficult as it's recording, and a very interesting take of effects in the closing track, this band doesn't just sit there and record on an 8-track and call it DIY. They take their approach seriously. 
There are thirteen tracks of blisteringly fast hardcore that will wear you out about as much as watching a skate video and holding your knees. With guest vocals galore and much diversity (for a crusty hardcore album), this is an absolute gem in a sea of other fish that are inferior. Short Changed are beginning to prove to me that they are the bigger fish that eat the crap out of all the other small fish in this music scene. This album was mastered by Dave from Neurosis.

The first vinyl EP I gave a listen to was entitled 'Burn Down Wagon Town', on Pirate Punx Records and Goat Town Recreation, and the album art featured a girl with a pirate hat sitting on a giant grasshopper-tank-motorcycle hybrid, and donning a big freaking gun:

Chock full of liner notes and photocopied show flyers in the insert, this green-and-grey splattered vinyl features a production where the drums are higher in the mix, yet the guitars still drive the heavy riffing throughout. These songs are catchy as hell, and one of them even has a Yoda soundclip. I'm not exactly sure, but I think the music on this release is even FASTER than on that self-titled album. It has an abrasiveness that ensures that the vinyl format is completely fitting. Oh, and one of their lyrics was stolen out of a kid's notebook back in high school. Hilarious.
Were it not for another album awaiting my listen after this, I would have felt forlorn at how quickly it went by.

Up next is a more DIY, raw approach in the form of a vinyl split with a band called  D.B.G.C., whom I have never heard of, but nevertheless delivered a very fitting attack on their side of the split. Very fast, creative, and with many variations in riffing styles, D.B.G.C. offers a raw, but energetic take that would make people go absolutely nuts in a live setting. These gentlemen must be kings at house shows.
And, as now expected, Short Changed crafts their catchy and intense punk with more of a mix that emphasizes the vocals. This material on this album in particular sounds the most old-school out of the three. The material is very fun, but all the same, is very sobering. It includes more gang vocals and diversity in tempo. 

Oh man, it's over? Time to play it again.

Altogether, Short Changed is a band that gets straight to the point... no beating around the bush and making pseudo-intellectual socio-political lyrics. Just telling us exactly how they feel about life around them in a way that is refreshingly unique, and remarkably well-executed.
Since the release of the self-titled album, they have changed vocalists and now have a female singer, and are currently writing toward their material for the follow-up album, also to be released on Rodent Popsicle Records, and, given their relentless style, they expect to have even more material for upcoming splits or EPs.

Definitely a band to follow, as they seem to have been only getting better with age, not slowing down one bit, and have eight tours under their belt (one of which covered most US states).
Chronologically, 'Burn Down Wagon Town' was their first album, with the split trailing it, and their self-titled album was their most recent offering.

Check them out at

Many thanks for guitarist Shipwrex for sending us these excellent albums, and I can ensure that they will be constantly spun for quite some time.


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