Is it cruel to critique the musical efforts of a band, Old Skull, that consists of a bunch of twelve-year-olds? You betcha. Shafty does it anyway.

When Shafty was twelve years old, he could recite the location of just about any "extra man" mushroom in Super Mario Brothers. He also knew the trick to getting 100 lives on Level 1-3, and how to get to the -1 Level (the endless sea level). He'd already beaten Rygar a hundred times over, as well as Metroid and dozens of other games. But all these accomplishments mean nothing next to the achievements of a bunch of Wisconsin nine-year-olds, who formed a punk rock band called "Old Skull."

Old Skull actually released two full-length albums before heading their separate musical ways. The second album--"C.I.A. Drug Fest"--is the subject of this review. Perhaps their time might have been better spent playing video games. And using the word "perhaps" is just being kind. This album sucks. And using the word "sucks" is also being kind. What record company would want to invest in a punk rock band full of nine-year-olds? Restless Records, that's who. Who knows how Old Skull got a record contract? Maybe somebody at the record company lost a bet with one of the kids' parents or something.

At any rate, these kids somehow garnered a record contract, because "C.I.A. Drug Fest" was Old Skull's second album. Their first--"Get Outta School"--was released when the "band members" were nine years old. The songs, naturally, dealt with the usual topics that one would expect from a nine-year-old: "Homeless," "Get Outta School," "Skate or Die," "Love is Hell," "Hot Dog Hell," "Kick Ass," and my personal favorite, "Let's Go Kill That Man." Adorable, huh? Too bad that the novelty of elementary school kids playing punk rock started to wear off as soon as the kids picked up their instruments. Yep, that precise second. Not one second later. In fact, it was scientifically proven that, after 1 second of Old Skull, 86.7% of listeners were already banging their heads--against the wall. And, after 4 seconds, 93.1% of listeners were clawing at their ears in a vain attempt to remove their eardrums. The children's spiked hair was kind of a nice touch, though.

Of course, musical talent is not a precise predictor of album sales, so it was still somewhat of a shock when "Get Outta School" failed to go platinum. Three years later, having inexplicably failed to crack superstardom with "Get Outta School," the members of Old Skull--perhaps a little wiser for the experience, probably more jaded about the music business--proceeded undaunted with their second album, which was just destined to put them over the top: "C.I.A. Drug Fest." The lineup had changed a little. Or a lot, actually. The only original "band member" to graduate to the re-assembled lineup was J.P. Toulon. Maybe the other kids left over "musical differences," or how best to split the profits from this sure money-maker. Anyway, J.P. demonstrates his varied musical talents as the drummer on "C.I.A. Drug Fest," having played guitars on the first album. Oh, by the way, both albums were produced by J.P.'s father, Vern Toulon.

Apparently Vern must have also written the lyrics, too, because they sound less like the typical vocabulary of a twelve-year-old than the ravings of a mad Wisconsin militia man:

1991, 1933 War has finished
But just begun
Oliver North free at last. Maybe.
His throat now is in my grasp. Maybe.
Welcome to the Pissing Pot.

Or, consider the lyrical poetry that is "Pizza Man":

Give me extra sauce.
Oh, Pizza Man,
If you are late,
You will give it to me for free.
OK Pizza Man,
Here's your tip:
A bullet through the head.

Charming.

The "singer" (Spike) also rails against then-President Bush, the Iran-Contra affair, Reaganomics, the Reagan-Bush economy, and other topics that twelve-year-olds find fascinating as all schmazz. So much for the innocence of such childlike ditties as "Hot Dog Hell." Damn those bastards in the music business for ruining these kids' idealistic dreams of rock superstardom! Damn them all to Hot Dog Hell! This is punk rock at its absolute worst. Rhythm means nothing. Songwriting means nothing. Spike alternates between reciting lyrics that were clearly written by an adult, or simply screaming. Not once does he attempt to incorporate his "vocals" with the other kids' instruments playing in the background. Think Shafty's being too harsh? Check out the available song snippets from the track listing:

(WARNING: NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART. THOSE WHO HAVE LISTENED TO THESE SONGS HAVE ACTUALLY HAD MUSICAL TALENT STRIPPED AWAY FROM THEM JUST FOR LISTENING!):

  1. C.I.A. Drug Fest
  2. Mary had a Little Lamb
  3. Pizza Man
  4. Grinding Your Teeth
  5. Kick Ass
  6. From a Little Kid's Point of View
  7. Welcome to the Pissing Pot
  8. Homeless
  9. Punkland
  10. Bill
  11. D'Yall Know Where the Herb Is
  12. Get Away
  13. Willie's Nightmare (Somewhere Over the Rainbow)

See what I mean? To some extent, it's difficult to rate the production value of C.I.A. Drug Fest because it's so wretched. We're talking pissing pot poor. See, it's hard to tell whether some of the less-inspired efforts ("Kickass") result from poor sound production or, more simply, absence of talent. Some of the other tracks, such as "Pizza Man," would almost be catchy if an essential part of the "rhythm" section of the band, that is, the drummer J.P., hadn't abandoned the rest of the band's rhythm during a 20-second long cacophonous segment near the beginning of the song.

In any event, you can conclude at least this much about the sound/production/mixing: If Old Skull took more than one take to record the entire album, the end result certainly doesn't indicate it. The complete suck-assedness of this album makes it a can't-miss-- for (1) listening to while drinking, for laughing fun; or (2) to play over the loudspeakers before your band takes the stage so that the fans are already in full moshing frenzy! (Trust 'ol Shafty, those fans will be plenty pissed off over being subjected to this.) Could Shafty have done any better than these kids at the age of 12? Probably not but, then again, he had the sense enough NOT to try.

Buying this album and listening to it will cause your skin to shrivel up and run away from your BONES at top speed, leaving only your BONES that will be exposed to the sun, causing them to be bleached. And you will be left with an OLD SKULL! -"Pizza Man"-"Welcome to the Pissing Pot"

Rating

Category Comment Rating
Sound/Production Farking awful, really. -3
Presentation The cover photo of them trying to hold their instruments is, by itself, worth the cost of the album. -4
Originality Little kids signed to a record contract to play farking awful punk rock music about hot dogs and Ronald Reagan? It may cause earbleeds, but it's novel! -5
Songwriting Except for Pizza Man, do these technically count as songs? -4.5
Deathy/Heavyness These kids are definitely farked in the head. At the same time, though, how can one give deathyness points to kids that, if they wanted to kill you, they'd have to chase after you on bikes? -5
0
Final Verdict: -4.3

Comments!

blog comments powered by Disqus
The following comments after this point are old comments. Yay!

holsum reddies (Guest) vocalizes:

Smilie!id love to get some dirt on old skull. email anything you got (especially what the members are up to now/ where they are) to:
thecommiecockshow@gmail.com
thanks

PsiNyde blahs:

Smilie!i remember when thee kids were on TV at the ripe old age of 5 or 6. their parents are musicians [failed of course]. one of their first tracks ever was called Hot Dog. they rocked tho.

..."THIS HOOOT DOOOG SUUUUUUUUCKS!!!"...

amamoj (Guest) pizzas:

Smilie!where da clips, yo?

Cock McDoogle (Guest) bakes:

Smilie!hahahaha old skull, 9 year olds, ha

Shafty yammers:

Smilie!I wouldn't say they "sucked," considering their age at the time. Their cohesiveness wasn't there, but several of them could play their instruments pretty well (just not at the same time), and the lyrics kicked ass. Not at all bad for punk... just not pleasant on the ears due to rhythm issues.

Glugg Moparian (Guest) communicates:

Smilie!I actually found another site with a full-length RealPlayer file of "Kill A Dead Eagle" on it last night, after I'd posted here. You're right, these guys really sucked! And yet, I also found what I heard to be strangely "cool." But then again, you're reading this post from a guy who's had VAST experience playing with tape recorders in his day. This stuff almost sounded like something I would have recorded back in the day. Guess there's some kind of a retro, nostalgic thing going on here. Oh well, I'm out.

Shafty says in non-morse code:

Smilie!ARGH, I need to fix the mp3s!

Shafty vocalizes:

Smilie!I had the same thought when I was trying to collect information for this review--that we're probably the only site on the 'Net about Old Skull. I may have poked fun at their album, but it has a becoming-permanent spot in my car's CD changer...

Glugg Moparian (Guest) vocalizes:

Smilie!For some weird reason, I remember seeing a story on either Hard Copy or A Current Affair (who else remembers THOSE shows?!) about Old Skull. At the time (we're talking early '90s here folks), I found the idea of a group of pre-teen boys trying to play rock music while screaming into microphones strangely "cool." Of course, I was also a pre-teen boy at the time... But I digress. How the heck I remembered the name of the "band" after well over 10 years escapes my mind. I'm just surprised that I could find any Old Skull info on the Net, here in the closing months of 2K4. Goes to show that you can find ANYTHING online! I'm out.

Bob verbalizes:

Smilie!Holy fuck.

BCsin (Guest) discharges:

Smilie!Would anyone happen to know if the two brothers from old skull, went on to become Brooklyn producers and emcess called Ill Bill and Necro??

Mr. Obliviously Obviously Sarcastic (Guest) says in non-morse code:

Smilie!Indeed they did...

...with awful music.

satansapplepie (Guest) discharges:

Smilie!Old Skull kicks all your fucking teeth in !!!!!!!!!

Weird One (Guest) communicates:

Smilie!I don't care what anyone else says. OLD SKULL ROCKED AND STILL DOES!

jamie (Guest) conveys:

Smilie!reallyoldpunk said:Here's to Old Skull! Sorry I could care less about musical quality. Those kids rocked. I was fortunate enough to see them play. Those kids inspired a whole bunch of older fools to give it a shot as well. Jamie I would love to hear from you. vern has been dead for years jackass

jamie (Guest) absolves:

Smilie!who is this?

L-Train (Guest) vocalizes:

Smilie!Not only are Old Skulls lyrics laced with verbal glory, but the artwork within the tape case for "Get Outta School" is pure genius. The stick figures, fires, and random hot dogs bring the artist to life in an epic way. These are boys before their time, and should be applauded for being able to record such musical and emotional fire. Here are some of the seriously face melting lines in the songs: "hot dog hell, i hate this hot dog, i could make a better one any day, this hot dog sucks" "it was a bloody day to get your head nailed to the cross, that would hurt now wouldnt it, lets kill them, it was a sad day for that poor man, jesus" "hey tom why did you lite the house on fire, who ever lit the house is going to die" . Now lets get serious....thats f*cking priceless. Listening to music like this, makes me realize that music can be powerful, beatiful, and a mind melding experience. Rock on Old Skull, and if anyone has ANY memorabilia...let me know! I'll leave you with this gem from "Get Outta School" : "Get out of school, the principal's a fool, fourth graders rule go to my house, go play joust at my old house, my mom went poo right in my shoe, my dad went pee in my shoe and i, got to get it out" .wow.

Pluhsomeulizm jabbers:

Smilie!Pluhsomeulizm said:<table width=75% align=center border=0 cellspacing=0 cellpadding=0><tr><td><hr align=center width=100% size=1><font size=2 face=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif><b>Pluhsomeulizm</b> said:</font><br><em><font size=2 face=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif>I NOE</font><br></em> <hr align=center width=100% size=1></td></tr></table><p>I NOE I NOE

Pluhsomeulizm jabbers:

Smilie!Pluhsomeulizm said:I NOE I NOE

Pluhsomeulizm bakes:

Smilie!I NOE

take what you think of the world and tear the shit up (Guest) says in non-morse code:

Smilie!the crusifux were also the best punk band eround and still are in my eyes,with intelligent lyrics about this thing we call civalisation they help pull the shit out of your ears about the world and see whats really there.

DrunkinMonkey (Guest) evaporates:

Smilie!:questions everyone:

reallyoldpunk (Guest) says in non-morse code:

Smilie!Here's to Old Skull! Sorry I could care less about musical quality. Those kids rocked. I was fortunate enough to see them play. Those kids inspired a whole bunch of older fools to give it a shot as well. Jamie I would love to hear from you.

Mephistefales plutoniums:

Smilie!I guess Vern threatened shafty with legal action over the posting of the above MP3s which is unfortunate since I could really use a laugh at someone else's expense.

evilm (Guest) jabbers:

Smilie!who are you crucifux and do you live in nyc now

evilm (Guest) vocalizes:

Smilie!hey were you in old skull? and if so what are you doin know

Shafty absolves:

Smilie!Hey, I would love to actually get the real scoop on Old Skull, as the album had already been out for several years before I ever got my hands on it and, as such, all I can do is offer my opinions and wild speculation. Feel free to e-mail me at shafty@pluh.com!

jamie toulon a.k.a spike (old skull) (Guest) communicates:

Smilie!i would be willing to give anyone the real dirt on old skull first hand if anyone really wants to know

Shafty blahs:

Smilie!I'm working on creating new MP3s to replace the ones that Mr. Teh devoured. Sorry it's taken so long, the software that I used to rip only portions of songs doesn't seem to work anymore, for some reason. STUPID!

SwampyBoggs (Guest) bakes:

Smilie!I would love to hear the Cds! I remember seeing the video on MTV back in the day!

Rawrb blahs:

Smilie!NO!

crucifux (Guest) jabbers:

Smilie!No vern was not some militia man but old school punk rock NYC squatter drinkin mofo. The kids are all grown up now and all they have left of their glory days (video on MTV and tourin japan) is a bad dope habit and a rebel yell. Don't buy their album, it sucks, but if you see JP on the streets of Manhattan, give him a ten, he probably needs his methadone.

Name (Guest) splats:

Smilie!megatr0n2 i'll take the cd give it to me ok?

when??? (Guest) verbalizes:

Smilie!when the hell are you going to fix the mp3's of old skull

J (Guest) blahs:

Smilie!I knew those guys at the time. The rest of the 9 year olds knew it sucked.

megatr0n2 forms verbage to communicate:

Smilie!i just recenly just picked up a copy of old skull, and i myself (if i could be any body else) thought,.... well it will definately sit next to my kris kross cd.

Shafty unleashes:

Smilie!Hmmm... Mr. Teh must have somehow destroyed the MP3s the last time he crashed the server. I'll make sure and re-post 'em, probably next week. Thanks for the comment!

Travis (Guest) verbalizes:

Smilie!I'm bummed cuz the links to the MP3's wont work. I never heard of Old Skull, but Shafty's review was so hilarious it made me want to listen just out of curiousity.

Gorm Galte (Guest) conveys:

Smilie!Elacha rules! Oldskull rules too!

gnom (Guest) conveys:

Smilie!Olskul are the beats

lia (Guest) bakes:

Smilie!Old Skull rocks! what other 9 year olds think about political issues like homelessness, the reagan era, and legalization of weed? i mean- it's a joke..but it's a good joke. personally- i love the sound of angry people, but only when they have something to be angry about...that's why i put them on the road to becoming a boy bikini kill...now they just have to learn guitar.
We aer teh Old Skulls!
Our first album GET OUTTA SCHOOL!
C.I.A. Drug Fest!
This is HOT DOG HELL, we will send you there!
This is how OLD SKULL answers teh homeless problem: All homeless go to Space Station Homeless!
If you are late, Pizza Man, we kill you and take teh pizza!
This is another OLD SKULL! After we kills you, you looks like this!