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.
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!):
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"
|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|
|Final Verdict: -4.3|