And now for something totally different, again. Screeching Weasel, or the new Screeching Weasel, rather, has come out with a story-driven record that branches out of their normal angsty genre of being who we are and saying what we think, bringing in a bunch of guests to the carnival, including their tour mates of the last couple of years. Blag Dahlia was there, along with Roger Lima from Less Than Jake, Chris Barrows from The Pink Lincolns, Todd Congelliere from F.Y.P. and Toys That Kill, and a handful of other musicians from bands I’m less familiar with.
I’m a fan of bands branching out and trying something new. I don’t buy the new records of a 30 year old band expecting it to sound the same as their first record. Sure, Weasel plays really fucking well live, but who wants to record the same music for 3 decades?
Because they blended a bunch of other people into the album, it goes beyond just a Weasel album, even if Ben Weasel wrote the majority of the music. That may have to do with Blag Dahlia’s very distinctive voice and style… or maybe something more.
The premise and story behind the album is Blag Dahlia, named “Baby Fat,” is the manager of a band called “Serpentello,” of which Ben Weasel, or “Tommy Swank,” is the singer for the band and owner of a “The Reptile House Club.” Throughout the album the different characters in the play follow a lot of typical band drama. The singer gets a superiority complex, the manager disagrees with the members decisions, unreliable crew members are making the whole situation boil.
The story starts to take a turn around the song “Things Aren’t So Bad After All.” It starts to turn more towards the social issues than the practical dilemmas that every band encounters, ever. It starts to involve an actual narrative in this “play” of sorts.
I’m not the biggest fan of the album, honestly. I really like that they did something different, I just don’t think this worked well for them. I think that the only way to really get into it is if you’re already a huge Screeching Weasel fan and will sit through it a couple of times to get through it, or have the booklet in your hands so you know what these characters are and what’s really going on. That is to say, I am a Screeching Weasel fan--not so much a Ben Weasel fan, but I like the music. What I like about them is that they’re catchy, they have thought provoking lyrics, and, while their stage antics and band history doesn’t stand up against their own music, they’re good at what they do. This, however, was not catchy, and unless you sit through it a few times, you’re not really going to feel like you’re living in the music--hence, why you have to already be a fan.
However, for my second contradiction, I will listen to Baby Fat, Act 2. Even if, on my first listen, it sounds the same and has some of the same problems, I’ll still give it a try, because this is the first time Ben’s done something like this, and as I said, I can appreciate what he’s doing in trying to create something new. He had a style that he probably perfected early on in Boogada Boogada Boogada, and My Brain Hurts, and has played off that style ever since.
Out of curiosity, I did check around online to see what other people thought, and my findings seem to match up with what I thought: fans will love it, and people who like SW, but don’t crawl out of Ben’s ass every time he beats someone up to defend him, they will probably have a hard time convincing themselves they need to put the extra effort in to get behind it. Based on his personality, I’m sure Ben didn’t write it for those people.