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Alkaline Trio - My Shame Is True (Cover Artwork)

Alkaline Trio

Alkaline Trio: My Shame Is TrueMy Shame Is True (2013)
Epitaph Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: BryneBryne
(others by this writer | submit your own)

It doesn't take an analytical genius to notice that Alkaline Trio have gone through two fairly distinct arcs in their career. Going from dingy Chicago basements and an, uh, trio of records in Goddammit, Maybe I'll Catch Fire and From Here To Infirmary that range from "beloved" to "positively infalli.
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It doesn't take an analytical genius to notice that Alkaline Trio have gone through two fairly distinct arcs in their career. Going from dingy Chicago basements and an, uh, trio of records in Goddammit, Maybe I'll Catch Fire and From Here To Infirmary that range from "beloved" to "positively infallible, despite the continued existence of ??Cop' and ??Enjoy Your Day'" to larger venues, glossier recordings and more recognition outside the punk scene with albums like Good Mourning, Crimson and their lone major label release that isn't as bad as you remember, Agony and Irony. That record capped the first arc, and despite major-label backing, an apparently unlimited steampunk wardrobe budget and some of Dan Andriano's best songs ever, it tanked.

Down but not out, Alkaline Trio signed with Epitaph and more or less went back to the basement with 2010's This Addiction. The album worked in terms of intent, as the band clearly wanted to record a throwback to their older material. The problem was how obvious they made it, and that kept the songs from being interesting and having an impact similar to their earlier work. It was almost like a wink to their longtime fans. "This is what you want, right?" Turns out you can't go home again.

My Shame Is True is far more of a follow-up to Agony and Irony than This Addiction, and emphasizes the best characteristics of latter-era Trio: Huge hooks, impassioned vocals, allegorical lyrics and massively slick production. This time it's punk producer du jour Bill Stevenson twisting the knobs, and it couldn't be a better fit; he tends to bring out the best in veteran bands and that's the case here, too, as he pushes Alkaline Trio to new heights while keeping them grounded in what makes them appealing in the first place.

"She Lied To The FBI" is a solid opener, with punchy verses and anthemic choruses laced with organs and whoas. Matt Skiba sounds at once assured and vulnerable, his voice powerful but his lyrics rooted in longing. Things get even more gothic on "I Wanna Be A Warhol," with multi-layered vocals and heavy synths, but all of it residing in a decidedly Trio-esque composition. Derek Grant's percussion is particularly impressive; he's always been one of the most talented drummers in the scene, capable of adding flashes when needed but never really overplaying like, say, Travis Barker might. "Warhol" is some of his best work ever with the band and his efforts alone elevate the song from adequate to pretty good. He also adds a layer of unexpected heaviness to the ballad "Kiss You To Death" with some incessant bass drum work in the otherwise straightforward choruses. It makes the song come off as much more intricate and textured than it would with an average player behind the kit.

"Midnight Blue" is another highlight. Some of the guitar work, especially the soloing around the verses, feels unexpected and new upon first listen, and Skiba's vocals are impressive. Same for "One Last Dance" which houses the biggest chorus on the album.

Andriano doesn't get much lead vocal time on My Shame Is True–just four songs of the album's twelve. But his contributions are as reliably enjoyable as they've always been. "I'm Only Here To Disappoint" features some of the classic deprecation-drenched lyrics fans have come to expect, and the hooks are abundant. "I, Pessimist," a duet with Tim McIlrath of Rise Against, works better than it has any right to given the contrasting styles of the two vocalists. Andriano has occasionally shown in the past that he can rise above a croon and be fierce on the mic–see "The Poison"–and he does so again here. "Only Love" is a ballad that immediately follows it, and as such the two songs serve as a brief-but-comprehensive suite into Dan's range. He vocally soars in his fourth and final contribution, "Young Lovers," a song that like some of the Trio's best work, has an understated darkness present surrounded by huge hooks and infectious melodies.

My Shame Is True closes with "Until Death Do Us Part," in which Skiba implores, Tell me everything will be OK / Tell me that you're still in love with me / Please tell me how to get back into your heart / For there I shall remain until death do us part, which, yeah, is pretty cloying, but keeps the Trio's now omnipresent ??80s influences even more at the forefront. It also speaks to the band's advanced age, and perhaps hints at a certain desperation for stability that wasn't as prominent in their earlier work. It caps an album that's a nice rebound from the fan service of its predecessor, showing that even this late in the game, Alkaline Trio can still write better songs than the vast majority of their contemporaries and take them to uncharted waters when it feels right.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
The Menzingers - Chamberlain WaitsThe Gaslight Anthem - HandwrittenThe Menzingers - On the Impossible PastAlkaline Trio - Broken Wing [EP]The Flatliners - CavalcadeThe Gaslight Anthem - The '59 SoundThe Gaslight Anthem - American SlangThe Gaslight Anthem - Sink or SwimThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever Told

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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.
misfitt (April 17, 2014)

Having read all the comments below I would also like to add that I do not think Travis Barker overplays. I think he is a very good drummer. For anyone who disagrees listen to the start of Feeling it. Having learned to play a few Travis Barker drum parts he shows great technique using 16th notes on the bass drum, very reminiscent of a certain great drummer from the West Midlands John Henry Bonham. Still the best circa 45 years since his introduction to the world and this introduction changed the world of drumming forever. Also with both Blink and Boxcar Racer Travis has also shown he has great snare technique where he often deploys traditional rudiments. Also he shows a level of maturity on songs such as All the small things where he plays very simply but to great effect. It has the style of the Pretty Vacant back beat. Simple but drives the band along which makes it fun to play. The mark of a great drummer is one who can just stay in a groove. It is this feel which marks out good drummers from great drummers and on Diamond and Guns Travis shows he can groove as well as anyone.

misfitt (April 17, 2014)

I have to say My Shame is True is a great album. For me it harks back to the golden era of From Here to Infirmary, Good Mourning and Crimson. I am sad to say but after this time some of the Alkaline Trio's albums have been slightly sub standard by comparison.

The stand out songs in my opinion are She Lied to the FBI, I Wanna be a Warhol, I'm only here to Disappoint, Young Lovers and Kiss you to Death and as well at these there are other songs such as Midnight Blue and Torture Doctor well worth a listen. This is one of the few albums lately I have been able to put into my CD player and listen to from start to finish. There is not one song which I can say I dislike enough to feel the need to fast forward.

One other reason this album is so great is the playing of Derek Grant who is rapidly becoming one of the best drummers in punk. His playing on this album can be heard very clearly which may be due to Bill Stevenson, a great drummer is his own right. Before you shout me down listen first to what he is playing and if you can understand then you can criticise. The benchmark at the moment for punk drumming is Brooks Wackerman from Bad Religion who has a great mix between speed and technique which allows for a level of finnesse not usually heard in punk rock with the exception of Josh Freeze; but like I have said Derek Grant with his solid backbeat and well defined fills is definitely what Alkaline Trio were previously missing before Good Mourning. Also some of his fills are slightly unusual so sounds like he is playing left handed some of the time.

I would also say do not just buy the album but try and catch them on tour if you can. I saw them in Oxford a few nights ago and they were at their very best. Dan and Derek are always constant but Matt can be fickle at times but he was on top form. Another accusation often levelled at them is they play obscure songs and do not always play their big songs but on this tour they played 95% of the big songs so I would definitely recommend.

TibbsTastic (June 14, 2013)

This record is great, so is Broken Wing, loving their new stuff

superanncoulterfanclub (April 9, 2013)

This record's growing on me. It's the logical progression from Crimson and Good Mourning.

[Now that they got a decent record, I can't use this comical nickname now: the Asinine Trio. Oh, well. At least it might be a good name for an Alkaline Trio cover band.]

demiforceone (April 9, 2013)

although i thoroughly enjoy this album, i think it would be great if people started referring to it as MyShiT.

24hourpriapism (April 8, 2013)

Wolfnote is my new Alkaline Trio.

wahhey (April 7, 2013)

This record is great. I was expecting this to be such a turd - I swear the way they promoted it was like anti-advertising, and I had really low expectations true, but this think definately rocks after a few listens. It feels like this could have been the record that came out after Good Mourning, definately has that era's feel.

kylewagoner (April 6, 2013)

Agony & Irony is definitely just as not-good as I remember it. And Dan's best songs are definitely not on that album. My least favorite Dan song is on that album, actually. But this album is awesome. I really like how they didn't try to label it as a "rock" record or a "back to our roots" record and just let it be what it became. Also, Matt shows his first ever guitar solo on here.

grgiaaa (April 6, 2013)

Best thing they've produced since Good Mourning, without a doubt; first one I've had on loop since 2003. What fell in between was embarrassing. Agree that Broken Wing should have found a place on the the album. So relieved they've pulled their fingers out and started making good music again. Really happy with MSIT.

ashtraymonument (April 5, 2013)

After two listens, I already like this way more than anything they've released since Good Mourning. It isn't amazing, but its surprisingly solid. They've should have axed a few of Matt's songs in favor of Dan's from the Broken Wing EP. Dan's songs have been consistently better the last few albums. Matt's lyrics are slightly less silly (although still pretty silly), and he recycles some riffs and melodies, but the songs are at least better than before.

psi81 (April 5, 2013)

I used to be about the biggest Trio fan on the planet, but my fanaticism has lessened with each new album since Crimson. I accept that they're never going to go back to the harsher sound and darker lyrics of From Here to Infirmary but it seems with each new album they say they're trying to get back to their roots, and then put out an overproduced album with pop lyrics that sounds like the label is in their ear telling them if they do it this way, this time they'll crack the Top 40. I know it happens to most bands (Rise Against and Gaslight Anthem are another two of my ex-favourites who've gone the same way) but it's still disappointing. I will keep buying every album the Trio put out though, because FHTI is my favourite album of all time, almost a religous experience for me. So I'm off to buy My Shame Is True now...

KevinEleven (April 4, 2013)

I've always liked Alkaline Trio's albums, but this is the first one in awhile that had an abundance of songs I found really memorable. It feels more like a follow-up to Good Mourning than anything they've done since then.

pufferfish (April 4, 2013)

greg0rb:

Do not address me.

cpp_ (April 4, 2013)

I was not impressed with Dans songs. I thought it sounded like he wasnt even trying. Matt's songs were good, but each song reminds me of another they've done, and one specific melody that Skibba does to death. I don't hate the new record its way better than This Addiction, but it still has too much filler.

NattyBoh (April 4, 2013)

the first 2 songs are awesome. after that, eh.

AlyssaVonVanity (April 4, 2013)

I love Alkaline Trio their music is awesome haha

greg0rb (April 4, 2013)

You're the pufferfish.

pufferfish (April 4, 2013)

Scott is fat, and his opinion is worthless.

magnetbox (April 4, 2013)

I've been a total fan boy for about 13 years now, so my score my be slightly inflated because of that, but I really do like this album. These guys can do no wrong to my ears.

sleepwalker (April 3, 2013)

I like the Trio just fine, but there is not a more over-hyped band on this site. They've been very dull for quite a while now...

paulrulzdood (April 3, 2013)

looking forward to getting this when my F2F shipment goes out next week. I think the "Warhol" single is catchy and fun. I haven't been stoked on any of their releases since Good Mourning and the OMA split, but my love of Infirmiry (my fav trio album) and the almost-as-good Mourning has kept me coming back (I was 21 in 2001 and Infirmiry was one of those "sountracks to your life" type albums as a degenerate 21 year old alcoholic drunken college confused broken hearted bum.)

I thought This Addiction was OK, but like the reviewer said, was an obvious and relatively flat attempt to go back to their early sound after the backlash from Agony & Irony, which I found to be deserved (sorry, that album is an experiment and growth gone wrong). Crimson was OK, has its great moments and it's mall-goth overproduced moments as well.

Paul

JamesFiend (April 3, 2013)

I enjoyed the album quite a bit but am in love with the Broken Wing EP. Pocket Knife and Broken Wing are easily two of the best tracks, hope to see them play those live.

shawnlw (April 3, 2013)

Why does everyone act like Crimson is so bad when it is so clearly the last album they made where they were consistently trying to write good lyrics? Seriously, does nobody realize how half-assed everything has been since Agony & Irony? It's like we're all to busy talking about drums and melodies and how many songs Dan has on the record to mention how little substance the lyrics actually contain.

jimmynorville (April 3, 2013)

Scott, shut up. "Dead End Road" is awesome.

conebone69 (April 2, 2013)

In addition, Broken Wing should have been on here.

conebone69 (April 2, 2013)

I second the sentiments of Matt Ramone.

This is the best Alkaline Trio record in a very long time. Probably at least since the HWM split.

telegraphrocks (April 2, 2013)

"Andriano doesn't get much lead vocal time on My Shame Is True-just four songs of the album's twelve."

Of Goddamnit, Maybe I'll Catch Fire, Alkaline Trio, From Here To Infirmary, Good Mourning, Crimson, Remains, Agony & Irony, This Addiction, and Damnesia, Dan goes over 4 songs on just two of them; Good Mourning (at five songs), and Remains (as it's a b-sides collection).
Why are people still surprised at this?
Plus, at 4 of 12 songs, that's still 33%, which ain't too shabby for someone that isn't even an original member.

telegraphrocks (April 2, 2013)

Weird. It sounds like Alkaline Trio.

P.S.
"She Lied To The FBI" is one of the best songs they've ever written. So fucking catchy.

maverick (April 2, 2013)

"Midnight Blue" is a suuuuuuper-generic Trio song. It's down there with "Steamer Trunk" and "Dead End Road" in terms of forgettability.

-Scott

keithybobeefy (April 2, 2013)

"The Broken Wing EP" is really good. I love the track "Sun Burns".

porksoda (April 2, 2013)

It's interesting that you mention that Travis Barker overplays but Derek doesn't. He may not be as bad as Barker per say, but I feel like one of the major faults of the Trio's last few releases was that he overplayed and it didn't fit. This is the first album since the Good Mourning era that I think his drumming finally fits the Alkaline Trio sound. But I do agree that some of his best work is on this album and the new EP.

It's also interesting that people love "Young Lovers" and "Midnight Blue" so much, since they're easily the weakest tracks on the record, with "Midnight Blue" being the pop-punkiest song they've ever written.

I wrote my own review of My Shame Is True for the site, but I guess they passed. I'm going to shamelessly self-promote myself now, and tell you that you can read my review here: http://porkreviews.blogspot.com/2013/03/review-alkaline-trio-my-s hame-is-true.html

And for those asking about the Broken Wing EP (which is amazing), I also wrote a review of that, which hopefully Punknews will post, but you can also read it here: http://porkreviews.blogspot.com/2013/04/review-alkaline-trio-brok en-wing-ep.html

nedsammy (April 2, 2013)

So now we bash "Cop" as well as "Enjoy Your Day"? This has gone too far, too far.

keithybobeefy (April 2, 2013)

I always felt that Agony & Irony got a lot more shit than it deserved, and that This Addiction was their worst album (although it has some great moments). I'm extremely pleased with this release and personally feel that the closing track is one of the best songs they've put out.

ReelBigMike (April 2, 2013)

This is easily their best record since Good Mourning. "Only Love" is the only track I skip on repeated listens of this album. Everything else, especially "Midnight Blue" and "Young Lover," is top notch Trio. Also, for anyone who is turned off by the relative lack of Dan songs (I'm personally more of a Skiba fan myself), you should absolutely check out the equally great Broken Wing EP. 3 of the 4 songs are Dan's and the track "Sun Burns" is, in my opinion, a top 10 all time Alk3 track.

oldpunkerforever (April 2, 2013)

This is good, their split with OMA is still the peak however. Fine Without you is probably my fav song of theirs-oldpunker-

chadreligion (April 2, 2013)

As I noted before, as a big fan of the band, this was the first release by them I was least excited about, especially after hearing the totally uninspired singles. "Warhol" just seems like a tv-show theme song, and the only really good song (IMO) were "Midnight Blue", "Kiss You To Death". "Till Death Do us Part" was great too.The rest of the album just seem like demos or songs they were working through but couldn't figure out what to do with.
There is definite elements of their older material and some of it seems to go back to that One Man Army split-era. The production is top notch, but the band could have done so much better. I honestly think This Addiction was a better album. All the way through.

thepopeofchili-town (April 2, 2013)

Great review, but I don't really agree with any of it.

Speaking as a gigantic Trio fan that's enjoyed everything they've put out to varying degrees, I kind of hate this record. "Only Love" is a good jam, but Dan kind of phoned it in on the others, and his songs are usually the highlights for me. "She Lied to the FBI" is insanely catchy, but other than that Skiba seems to love using the same melodies over and over again.

Biggest disappointment of the year so far for me. Still looking forward to seeing them with OWTH this summer.

thetopher (April 2, 2013)

Things can be around for a long time and become 'du jour'

flowerfeeder (April 2, 2013)

You really believe One Last Dance is the biggest chorus on the record?

danwazz (April 2, 2013)

Solid album. Best since Good Mourning. Finally feels like they are doing what they want again, instead of what the "should" be doing. Also, there's a "menacing" feeling on this album. It's more implied in the lyrics and music, rather that being out front and blatant, like on the last few records. I dig it.

mikexdude (April 2, 2013)

I don't think Travis Barker over-plays. : )

maxwellmurder (April 2, 2013)

It's hilarious that the same people can hate This Addiction yet love this album.

lostcausegiveup (April 2, 2013)

Great review, great album. What about the EP that was supposed to come out with it? Any word on that?

davebrave4 (April 2, 2013)

It's nice to see a review that actually mentions the drummer.

MN_DrNick (April 2, 2013)

After three duds (excluding that acoustic album), they finally release an album I enjoyed.

Sho-Nuff (April 2, 2013)

@bryne Ok, then you see why that turn of phrase isn't accurate. I'm not one to nitpick but your choice of words implies that using Bill is a relatively recent phenomenon.

NewKid (April 2, 2013)

I actually like Matt's songs way better than Dan's this time. Hasn't happened in a while.

MattRamone (April 2, 2013)

Also, as usual, Scott's opinions are beyond worthless.

MattRamone (April 2, 2013)

The Matchbox 20 of punk bands.

bryne (April 2, 2013)

@maverick: DOH! Fixed. Thanks. I'm a little overextended here at the moment.

@sho-nuff: No shit.

Sho-Nuff (April 2, 2013)

"punk producer du jour Bill Stevenson"

?????

Bill has been producing records for a looong time, pal.

Tye (April 2, 2013)

I second the comment below about "Broken Wing".

loveshackbaby (April 2, 2013)

As usual, the Dan songs that end up being b-sides are better than half of the Matt songs. Why do they keep doing this?

Nap (April 2, 2013)

Solid album. Better than "This Addiction".

leecorsoisapenis (April 2, 2013)

I really did not like any of the songs they released early at first, but they've really grown on me. This is definitely their best album since Crimson (which I also didn't like at first but came to love it) and might be better than Good Mourning. Is it because Skiba had a breakup and had something to write about again? Sucks for him, but good for us.

CoolHand (April 2, 2013)

"Broken Wing", which is only on the deluxe version, is awesome and is quickly becoming one of my favorite Dan Andriano songs.

maverick (April 2, 2013)

Butch Vig didn't produce "Agony & Irony." Butch Vig has never produced anything by Alkaline Trio.

This album feels like Matt Skiba is on autopilot. Is it too much to ask that the Trio put out a record with only Danny singing?

-Scott

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