Strung Out - Top Contenders: The Best of Strung Out (Cover Artwork)

Strung Out

Strung Out: Top Contenders: The Best of Strung OutTop Contenders: The Best of Strung Out (2011)
Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: sickboiChris
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When a band makes the decision to release a "Best Of", "Greatest Hits", or any other retrospective, several questions must immediately be asked. First, how long have they been around, and how deep is their catalog? Next, is there enough interest in their fanbase? Finally, will there be any incentive.
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When a band makes the decision to release a "Best Of", "Greatest Hits", or any other retrospective, several questions must immediately be asked. First, how long have they been around, and how deep is their catalog? Next, is there enough interest in their fanbase? Finally, will there be any incentive to the listener, such as new songs or remastering/mixing of the original tracks? Strung Out clearly meets the the first two requirements, including over 20 years together and seven full-lengths under their belts. Furthermore, the band boasts what is arguably one of the most devoted collection of fans in punk rock.

Top Contenders offers a high-level view of the group's history of recordings, primarily focusing on the fan favorites, and common songs you'd expect to see on their setlist. Also included are three tracks exclusive to this release, which to many fans would be enough reason to purchase this record. Adding to the overall package, the band decided to go back to the original tapes and enlist their old friend Ryane Greene for full remixing and re-mastering of 23 songs. Regardless of how you may feel about Greene's production in the past, these new versions sound crisp, energetic and full of life. "Matchbook", "Mind of My Own" and the standout of the re-releases, "Too Close to See", sound almost brand new.

The three new songs, "City Lights", "Saturday Night" and "Here We Are" all offer the listener different shades of the band, bringing immediate questions as to whether or not these songs were cast aside throughout the years and revisited for this release. "City Lights" sounds like it could have fit very nicely onto Twisted by Design, with a consistent mid-tempo verse/chorus/verse/bridge/chorus arrangement–similar to "King Alvarez". "Saturday Night" would have been right at home on American Paradox and "Here We Are" is reminiscent of several tracks from Blackhawks Over Los Angeles.

Now, I'm going to divert from general observations and insight to go off on a bit of a tangent. If any member of the band reads this review, please answer me this–what is the reason you did not include "Paperwalls" (from Twisted by Design) on this retrospective, or on the Live in a Dive recording? For that matter, I've also never seen you play it live. Am I alone in how much I love this song? I always assumed it was a quintessential part of the catalog. Hell, I was even willing to let it slide when it wasn't included on the live record (Face to Face left "Disconnected" off theirs; must have been the thing to do). But not including it on your "best of"? Really? I can't even begin to tell you how many mix CDs or playlists included that cut. But, maybe I'm alone here, and the rest of the world viewed the song as "filler." I digress.

All in all, Top Contenders is a solid release for those wanting to dive into the band's material, or maybe just looking to upgrade songs from those scratched CDs left in your car all these years. Either way, a solid effort to not just cash in on re-released material, but to pay respect to a great collection of songs.


People who liked this also liked:
Strung Out - Agents of the UndergroundFace to Face - Laugh Now, Laugh LaterThe Flatliners - CavalcadePropagandhi - Failed StatesStrung Out - Transmission.Alpha.DeltaHeartsounds - Until We SurrenderNOFX - Cokie the ClownSamiam - TripsPolar Bear Club - Clash Battle Guilt PrideDear Landlord - Dream Homes

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
AK3punk (September 20, 2011)

you_are_a_loser, I've seen them play Gearbox 5 times. 3 times last year...

AK3punk (September 20, 2011)

Strung Out is the best band ever. It's nice to hear these songs redone, it sounds like it could have been a seemless album. The vocals are so crisp and clear in places they weren't before. Most noticeably "Everyday". I need to put more time into this album, I owe it to myself as a Strung Out fan...

chickswithdicks (September 19, 2011)

i'm not gonna debate the tracklist, but as far as the remixing goes: it's fucking awesome.

this is how i've wanted to hear some of these songs. i'm a big strung out fan, but i always find that their albums are a little too glossy and just lacking some depth where the mix is concerned. i find it easier to hear each instrument here, and everything just has a little more weight to it i find.

skeetopunk01 (September 18, 2011)

Missing No Voice of Mine! One of their best songs.... I'm baffled.

you_are_a_loser (September 17, 2011)

onegirlarmy: I've seen Strung Out live 4 or 5 times and they never played Gearbox.

fredbib (September 17, 2011)

You're not alone. Paperwalls is my favorite Strung Out song too.
Ryan Green did an amazing job. This album sounds real good.


Levendus (September 17, 2011)

Love it. Love Strung Out

nuff said

woodprop (September 16, 2011)

Although their last two albums were a bit meh, I love all their prior work. The majority of the songs turned out well here. I really like how some of the older stuff sounds like its been almost re-recorded. My only complaint is that the bass guitar seems overwhelmed in a few of the songs (Firecracker specifically). As for the new songs, City Lights kills it, such a catchy song.

onegirlarmy (September 16, 2011)

to you_are_a_loser: How many times have you seen Strung Out? I've seen Gear Box live about 6 times over the years... but I've also seen them a shitload of times. They occasionally throw it in.

onegirlarmy (September 16, 2011)

Paperwalls is my absolute favorite Strung Out song. It's been my internet username/handle for email, message boards, etc for years. Never have heard them play it and is totally underrated, I think.

Everyone who wants to hear Twisted By Design songs live is always yelling for Matchbook and Too Close To See, but I've heard those 1000 times. I'll take Paperwalls any day.

Bummed its not on this or Live In A Dive.

Good release. Although Strung Out is my favorite band, I was kind of eh on the B-sides collection they put out a couple years back. I got this thinking "I have most of these songs already, I'm getting it by default as a Strung Out release, but I probably won't be very into it". Wrong. LOVE the re-recordings, everything sounds so fresh even though I'm still used to the old records' production and masterings.

Also, IMO: "Here We Are" and "City Lights", 2 of the 3 new songs on this, are two of Strung Out's best tracks. Makes me wonder if they were B-sides from Agents Of The Underground (if yes, they definitely should have gone on that record) or just written specifically for this.

feloniousjive (September 16, 2011)

I hear ya on Paperwalls. Ive seen them play it a few times....it was as awesome as you would imagine it to be.

LinoleumMagazine (September 16, 2011)

The remixing on this drives me nuts. The drums sounds way too loud in most of the mixes.

Also the one song I think they should have included is Radio Suicide.

drunkwithpower (September 16, 2011)

Seems weird 1/3 of the review is the reviewer talking about his favorite song and wondering why it was left off. Maybe the band doesn't like. Maybe they though that album was better represented by other songs. Maybe they just found out that it's your personal fave and left it off to spite you.

Jeevz (September 16, 2011)

Yeah man, Gearbox or Rotten Apple instead of Monster off Suburban Teenage.

you_are_a_loser (September 16, 2011)

I really wish that they would add Gear Box to their live sets. That's probably my favorite song of theirs.

hubitcherkokov (September 16, 2011)

I'd love to see Strung Out release another live album in the same way that NOFX released "They've Actually Gotten Worse Live," where they play a set of songs that did not make it on the previous record. Between the three full lengths they put out after "Live in a Dive" and the great songs from their back catalog that were left off of that release, in addition to the ways in which the band will alter the music/lyrics up live, I think it could be a really fun idea.

wallofyouth (September 16, 2011)

i hate the artwork and i strongly dislike the music they're making these days. i haven't even listened to this record but i still give it 5 stars because of those first ten years

nedlouis (September 16, 2011)

I actually never understood why Novella was relegated to b-sides. It`s a solid top 5 for me.

r3vengetherapy (September 16, 2011)

Huh. I always saw "Betrayal" as filler, seeing as how it never made it onto any of the LP's as an actual track. And they recorded it twice for whatever reason.

Jeevz (September 16, 2011)

Paperwalls, really? Filler to me. Where's Rotten Apple, Betrayal? I would have really liked to hear to those remastered.

r3vengetherapy (September 16, 2011)

I really hate "best of" releases, but this one makes an effort to be something at least worth checking out. I'm a huge fan of this band, but I think I just prefer the orginal recordings of most of these songs. The tracklist is about what I'd expect, but there's a lot I'd change out because I've got my own biased opinions of what songs are better.

Also, "Paper Walls" is far from being filler and when I talk to people who love this band it usually gets listed as a favorite song. I'm not sure why it's not on here, but I actually have heard them play it live. However, I've only seen them play it once in the 8 times I've seen them over the past 10 years.

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