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Ben Weasel - These Ones Are Bitter (Cover Artwork)

Ben Weasel

Ben Weasel: These Ones Are BitterThese Ones Are Bitter (2007)
Mendota Recording Co.

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


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

Ya know, I don't like Ben Weasel anymore. It's not because he's punk rock's most renowned asshole -- that's actually my favorite thing about the guy -- it's because, like many other die-hard Weasel Heads, we're still pissed that he won't reform Screeching Weasel and even more pissed that we never go.
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Ya know, I don't like Ben Weasel anymore. It's not because he's punk rock's most renowned asshole -- that's actually my favorite thing about the guy -- it's because, like many other die-hard Weasel Heads, we're still pissed that he won't reform Screeching Weasel and even more pissed that we never got to see them live. There's definitely a love/hate thing we as fans have with Ben and his old band, but I argue that those feelings speak to the band's relevance. Snobs can discount SW all they want, but they always engaged the listener and the punk scene.

Well, pay no mind to my fanboy gripes. As a reviewer it's my duty to approach this as an unbiased referee, and that job has been made especially easy because These Ones Are Bitter is a fantastic album -- without a doubt, one of the best releases of the year, really. I know I know, it pains me to say…

I attribute the excellence of this new full-length to three things: terrific production, an unprecedented vocal performance from Ben, and (duh) good songs. The man behind the knobs is All-American Reject Mike Kennerty, and it sounds like it too. Not sure how this kid got so good at recording bands (I suspect that he enlisted the help of a talented engineer to get some of these sounds), but this record is bright, has great separation, and the producer got the most out of the performance. I'm not too familiar with AAR, but their contribution to this project should not be overlooked. Props.

We also have Ben Weasel singing better than ever, and that can't hurt. Chill out kids, his voice still has that distinct sound, just stronger and, unless I'm imagining things, his range has also improved. It's polished and a little less bratty, but there's a lot of sweet melodies on this album and his new found vocal prowess makes more sense. I think I read a while back on Ben's blog that he took singing lessons? I expect any vocalists out there reading this to be asking themselves "Why didn't I think of that?"

And thirdly, the songs are just really good. Took me long enough to get to the actual music, huh? I suppose if I was forced at spearpoint to liken TOAB to something from the Weasel pantheon I might go with the under-appreciated Bark Like a Dog LP, only because that record saw the band take on some mid-tempo ditties for the first time (think "You Blister My Paint") and because it was Screeching Weasel's best produced album up to that point. On this latest release I am hearing a bit of the Muffs ("In a Few Days"), a surprising amount of MxPx ("Got My Number" among others), and an overall vibe that reminds me of Weezer. Again, SW purists need not be alarmed: This stuff is right up your alley. Besides, you're in your 30s now for fuck's sake. This record is so accessible it might actually be a nice introduction for those unfamiliar with Screeching Weasel. Imagine you and your Matchbox 20-loving older sister having to go on a road trip. Throw this on and you will both be stoked. Now that she's opened up a bit to your silly punk rock music, that's when you hit her with My Brain Hurts, dawg!

So why not a perfect 10? There is some filler on Side B, but it could only be considered filler because there's so many high points throughout the album. Don't get me wrong -- it finishes strong down the stretch with songs like "Summer's Always Gone Too Soon" and my favorite of the bunch, the closer "Only In November." You'll notice that there's multiple references to the seasons, which has been a recurring theme throughout Screeching Weasel's career. And I may be over-thinking this a bit, but something about the overall package here hints at a concept album. Sort of a "year in the life of Ben Weasel"-type thing starting with a refreshing Spring thaw. But I'm probably getting carried away, so decide for yourself.

Lastly, it bears mentioning that These Ones Are Bitter is a digital-only release with a limited vinyl pressing planned for later in the year. Sure, the handwriting is on the wall, but this decision seems a little puzzling when you consider the audience. I also think Ben Weasel should've got a guy named Jughead to play guitar and a guy named Vapid to play bass and called the band something along the lines of Screeching Weasel. A crazy notion that probably would've only resulted in double the album sales, BUT HEY, who asked me? And even if I got my way, I'd just complain about the lack of touring anyhow, so I'll settle for this: another great full-length from the Weasel camp.

 

 
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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.
goodpipe (August 15, 2007)

Very good record

Anonymous (June 29, 2007)

this is actually really good

CapnHawk (June 28, 2007)

Pretty good review. I actually really like Bark Like a Dog, so i'm prety pumped to hear this. Now I need to transfer funds to buy it online.

jackcramp (June 28, 2007)

Top notch Pop punk perfection!!!!

Anonymous (June 28, 2007)

This is really good stuff.

theonetruebill (June 27, 2007)

You know what pisses me off? The printable jewel case artwork is too small to fit a normal CD case!

lushj (June 27, 2007)

It's coming out on vinyl in a few months on another label. I actually don't know if I'm going to wait for that to come out to hear it or not, but the pun was too irresistible.

Anonymous (June 27, 2007)

finally listened to the whole album a bunch of times. its pretty stellar. there are many standout tracks (let freedom ring, jeanette, addition by subtraction, in a bad place). its really poppy and really catchy and really good. not sure quite what screeching weasel album to compare it to. i think it actually stands on its own as just a great album. the lineup (especially the AAR guys) adds a new dynamic to ben's songs. i think danny's bass is a little lost in the mix which is too bad cause he is a really good bassist. but like it says in the review...i do think ben's singing is improved. he sounds great. overall i'm quite pleased and will be listening to it all summer. play some shows ben!

Anonymous (June 27, 2007)

yeah, its on iTunes.

sickboi (June 27, 2007)

Jesse-

It's download only. They said it was released today, though I haven't verified at iTunes...

-chris

Anonymous (June 27, 2007)

Worst. Singing. Voice. Ever.

Atleast he was listenable on the Screeching Weasel albums.

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

i hate these black bastards..oh wait this isn't the bad brains review.

lushj (June 26, 2007)

Score's for the review- haven't heard the record yet (because it's not out yet- ba-dump-bump!)

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

they are still called record labels right? even though they dont make records anymore.

JerryCola (June 26, 2007)

Why have two comments said "good CD" when this is a digital release? old habits?

Anyways, I downloaded it and have only listened to it once so far but I found it to be enjoyable. I'm just overall happy to hear some new music from Ben.

I really need to print out the inserts so I can read the lyrics.

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

Good CD, here are the jewel case inserts if anyone wants them

http://www.mendotarecording.com/jewel.pdf

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

i could listen to "addition by subtraction" all fucking day. that little weasel-ish riff is so catchy and good.

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

i have only listened to some songs all the way and bits and pieces of others. i can already tell its fucking stellar. damn digital releases and the no booklets/lyrics! from what i can tell i disagree with toby about the filler on the second half. second half sounds fucking awesome.

SonnySix (June 26, 2007)

ben weasel all american rejects? my interest is peaked, but my breakfast seems to be making it's way back up. i'll have to give it a listen, right after i grab a glass of water.

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

everyone's gotta get this. really good cd.

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

i like the review. good cd!!!

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

This is a stupid review. Repeating how much you'd love a SW reunion more than once is just filling up space because you have nothing to say.

That being said, I enjoy this release. Ben's a good songwriter, and that AAR guy's not that bad behind the knobs.

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

while i do agree to some extent about the wishing ben would reform with jughead and vapid and panic and bring back the glory days of SW...i am excited to listen to this as its own separate entity. It's been a while since we heard anything new from ben. i thought fidatevi was decent. it had good lyrics but musically it kind of bored me. but i think this lineup and seeing that ben has had a while to work on new songs...its gonna be fucking sweet. can't wait to hear it sometime today.

Anonymous (June 26, 2007)

sooooooo buying this on my lunch break today.

Hey_Asshole (June 26, 2007)

i was surprised there was not mention about how the backing band for Ben was Dan Andriano, and 2 dudes from AAR.

great fucking record

AphasiacIIC (June 26, 2007)

even though i dont agree with the review personally, its very well-written and actually analyzes the music. unlike most of the actual "staff editors" here. good job toby-- score is for the review

skolarx (June 26, 2007)

Besides, you’re in your 30s now for fuck’s sake

i actually laughed out loud at that line (the fact that i just turned 30 didn't hurt). i'm really looking forward to hearing this

JerryCola (June 26, 2007)

Toby knows best.

GlassPipeMurder (June 26, 2007)

Besides, you’re in your 30s now for fuck’s sake

score is for that.

sickboi (June 25, 2007)

Toby, you are such a weiner...

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