Dude…Don’t Make it Weird

 

The Virginia-based septet ‘Thirteen Towers’ have released their latest LP “Dude…Don’t Make it Weird!”  This follows two other albums which have been released since the band first began in 2007.  In fact, this is the first album to feature the bands “new” lead singer, James Tucker.  Let’s check it out…

 

  1. “Intro”- The boys warm things up with this quick little instrumental. Grade: A-

 

  1. “By Any Other Name”- At first listen I thought this was going to be another instrumental. There are some good things going on here, from punk rock guitar to the rich horns, but as a whole, this song did not seem to transition very well, between rhythm changes.  Grade: B-

 

  1. “Take One for the Team”- Pick it up! This next ditty will put some pep in your step.  With its frantic horn parts and trading off of vocals, you will feel like you are at a beer-soaked frat party.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Facebook Whore”-Things escalate quickly when the lone muted trumpet is abruptly interrupted by vocals straight out of any metal band. I personally think that this could have been a straight up metal song but the combination of hard rocking vocals and guitar with the “I’ve heard this ska guitar riff a million times” is so over the top at times that it just works.  Nice job guys.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Inviting Disaster”- After catching myself singing along, this is the most well-rounded, radio-friendly song thus far. Catchy to say the least, this one’s a winner.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “You’re not Wrong Robert, You’re Just an Asshole”-Straight up punk rock, accented nicely with blaring horns is found in this next song. I dig the guitar solo at the 2:00 mark as well as the way it slows down for a bit near the end.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Without You”- My initial response to this song was not overly positive. At first the gruffer vocals did not seem to mesh with the laid back acoustic guitar.  Upon further listening, this one really began to grow on me.  The highlights for me are the backing vocals and the mellow trumpet.  Grade: B

 

  1. “Find a Way”- Thirteen Towers changes pace with “Find a Way,” channeling ska, metal and lightning-fast punk. Good stuff.  Grade: B+

 

  1. “Backwash”- While I appreciate the subject matter, this song is just ok. Musically it seems a little “all over the place.”  Grade: C

 

  1. “Shake it Off”- On the surface “Shake it Off” it another ska punk song. If you listen to the lyrics, it urges you to stay positive, and keep your chin up when negativity clouds your life.  Grade: B

 

  1. “Fuck your Selfie”- I don’t enjoy songs that reference pop culture, as these references can become extremely dated. This stated, the selfie and social media are here to stay (for better or worse).   Overall this is a solid song with amazing backing horns.  Grade: B

 

  1. “Meal for Free”- In the same fashion as “Inviting Disaster” this song has excellent craftsmanship.  It just flows well from start to finish.  Grade: A-

 

  1. “Part of Me”- “Part of Me” starts with a slow build and then rocks out at near the 1:30 mark. There is one more slower tempo part, but the rest of the song is in full on rockin’ mode.  Way to finish strong.  Grade: B+

 

 

When you have listened to as much ska as I have, it is difficult not to compare bands to one another.  Right out of the gate I thought these guys sound like ‘4 Aspirin Morning’ from Wisconsin. There were even some glimpses of ‘The Insyderz’ as well.  What each of these bands have in common is the ska-punk framework with gruffer vocals laid on top.    Technically speaking, the quality of the recording, is not superb, but I mention this not as a critique, but rather to be complete.  Vocally speaking, the gruffer nature is certainly the dominating force across most of the songs, however, there are a few instances, where this is toned down a bit.  Songs like “Inviting Disaster” and “Meal for Free” has James Tucker using more of a traditional singing voice, which I tend to resonate with more.  On the instrumentation side, Thirteen Towers dishes out what you would expect from a ska punk band; hard hitting guitars mixed with the third-wave guitar riffs.  Punchy horns are found at every turn.  While there is a dash of metal thrown in at times, there is little straying from the ska –punk sound.  As a whole “Dude…Don’t Make it Weird!” is an enjoyable ride with very few bumps along the way.  Check it  out!

 

Overall Grade: B

 

 

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