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Strung Out - An American Paradox (Cover Artwork)

Strung Out

Strung Out: An American ParadoxAn American Paradox (2002)
Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


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

Let me start this review by saying that I find it truly unfortunate that I am able to review this record almost a full month before its official release date. Once again, someone was irresponsible with a promo copy, and once again the band paid the price via the internet. While I am, and probably wi.
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Let me start this review by saying that I find it truly unfortunate that I am able to review this record almost a full month before its official release date. Once again, someone was irresponsible with a promo copy, and once again the band paid the price via the internet. While I am, and probably will always be, a big fan of online music, it's hardworking bands like Strung Out that actually have a case against it. Even though they have already supplied two full MP3's (Cult of the Subterranean and Alien Amplifier) and snippets of two other songs in their website's flash intro (Unkoil and the title track,) their ravenous fans decided that just wasn't enough, and capitalized on someone's foolish decision to post the album online.... for the second straight release. (You may remember The Element of Sonic Defiance coming out online somewhere around a month before IT's release date.)

On to the record. AAP is Strung Out's 7th release (including Skinny Years and all EPs.) This collection of 13 songs plays something like a greatest hits, representing the styles and sounds from each era of Strung Out's high octane career, along with covering some new territory. Highlights include the opener, "Velvet Alley", which is extremely up-tempo and reminded me of something from Suburban Teenage Wastelend Blues the band's 1996 release. "Alien Amplifier" is delighfully poppy, utilizing a Moog a la Reggie and the Full Effect. My favorite section of this record was track 6 through track 8, "The Kids," "Unkoil," and "Contender." "Kids" is another SO classic, up tempo and hard hitting with a SWEET guitar effect smack in the middle of the song. "Unkoil" is the heaviest effort on this record, sort of a better produced throwback to "Bring Out Your Dead," also from STWB. "Contender" reeks of No Motiv, and will be a big hit with those who were fans of the wide open harmonies and full guitar sound of "Barfly" or "Paperwalls."

Unfortunately, this record does have it's downsides. Most noticably, it lacks the slick production and amazing continuity of Element of Sonic Defiance. The album as a whole has a very out-of-place feel; while all artists evolve and progress, this record would have made more sense had it come out between STWB and Twisted by Design. The songwriting just doesn't hold up to recent efforts like EOSD and the other track from that session, "Novocaine." Think of it like NOFX releasing Ribbed immediately after Punk in Drublic or The Decline. While these are all great albums, there is definitely a forward progression involved. While AAP is a great record, it almost feels like a big step back in time for the band. Sometimes the songs even seem disjointed and random in their structure. While it would be typical for SO to come up with a track listing that made the listener feel uncomfortable or out of place (sort of an homage to the voices-in-your-head vocal tracks of previous recordings) I can't say I'm a big fan of it.

Finally, the song that they are pursuing as a single, "Cemetery," is niether the strongest song on the record, nor does it represent this record, or really anything the band has ever done before it. "Cemetery" hit me like SO's take on "Detroit Rock City;" very pseudo-sinister, probably written with the radio in mind, assuming that radio is broadcasting from the late 1980's.

Overall, I don't want it to sound like I am bashing this record. I would strongly reccommend buying it to anyone. However, having been one of those aforementioned ravenous fans of Strung Out for coming up on ten years, I was certainly taken by surprise on first listen, but then I guess it would be inappropriate of me so sit here and wait for the band to write another EOSD. If this is what they want to do, more power to them; it's important to let our favorite artists have creative freedom.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Strung Out - Twisted by DesignRise Against - Revolutions Per MinuteNOFX - The DeclineNOFX - Punk In DrublicThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldOperation Ivy - Operation IvyStrung Out - Suburban Teenage Wasteland BluesMinor Threat - Complete DiscographyStrung Out - The Element of Sonic DefianceBad Religion - Suffer

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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.
Anonymous (August 1, 2002)

Element isnt garbage, you just have no taste in music. Well, you like STWB, thats a start.

-Steve

Anonymous (May 6, 2002)

strung out has let me down with the past two releases and i am not sure if there is an end to this drought.
they rocked with paradise, teenage and twisted... but after that. sigh.
i keep on going out and buying their cds because i love them(their old stuff) but now they're just releasing garbage

Anonymous (April 20, 2002)

este cd esta kabronsisismo se la mamaron kon este cd
no se por ke dicenke es una mierda
estan pendejisimos no ammes kabron nadamas te dedikas a chingar al grupo ke tu bien sabes ke es el mejor mas talentoso ke ahi ahorita, no me vengasa decir ke este cd no esta bueno, PENDEJO american paradox es una obra maestra cada cancion se te atora en tu cabeza como un chicle ,no te puedo decir kon palabras ke tan kabro nesta este cd, todo el cd es una obra maestra kabron!!! masterpiece! otra cosa el baterista es uan verga no he escuchado un talentoso,tecnico baterista komo jordan burns no ahi nadie en el punk rock ke teoke komo el NADIE!! yp tpko bateria te puedo decir ke en verdad tiene mucho talento pero mucho talento jordan sin duda el mejor. asi ke kalfiko kon un 10 a este cd por ke me volo los sesos!

Anonymous (April 16, 2002)

Nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Anonymous (April 16, 2002)

Great album

Anonymous (April 13, 2002)

i hope you had a real copy of the album when you reviewed it, and not just a bunch of mp3's on your computer. Reviewing sound quality via mp3 just doesn't cut it, you'd have to let us know what bitrate it was at, what sound card you were using at the time and finally through what speakers or which stereo. All of those make a HUGE difference. I just hope that you had a cd version of the album. Otherwise I just have to laugh at the fact that sound quality was even mentioned in the review considering all the mp3's i have found off this album just sound like shit, so when it comes out, I am just gonna buy the cd. Boys learn to rip at better quality!

Anonymous (April 12, 2002)

I just downloaded a few songs, and i think they are really fuckking good. i'm definitly buying this album as soon as it gets out. i think you just have to listen to the songs over and over to really discover their real worth (as it it's true for every so album)
the drums ARE computerized, but not the computer is playing the drums, the drummer is just using a digital drumkit.

Anonymous (April 10, 2002)

doesn't anybody own "another day in paradise" thats's the reason why i fell in love with strung out in the first place. ADIP, is the fattest "no pun intended" strung out album. if it wasn't for that they wouldn't be where they are now. that and barry manilow. his a big influence to them especially the guy that in the band who beats up old ladies. i have'nt heard this album but i'll give it two stars, just cause it's my favorite number.

Anonymous (April 9, 2002)

This album kicks ass. Strung Out has a very diverse sound, with every album sounding different. Everyone who has heard any of their records knows this so i don't understand why you people bitch everytime it doesn't sound exactly like you want it to sound. Strung Out will hopefully get the exposure they deserve with this record and i know they are heading in the right direction because of their growing fan base and I know that the band is looking for more exposure. I really like this record, if you all just keep listening to it you will agree that it is a great album. All Strung Out albums are like that, it takes time to get it but when you do your hooked. Another great release, by a band that is far above any in their field. The most powerful and superior band out their today. GO GET THIS RECORD AS SOON AS IT COMES OUT!

Anonymous (April 8, 2002)

this cd is extremely mediocore. nothing stands out at all. when element was released i was so anxious for this cd to come out i was wetting my pants. and now that i've heard it, im not even going to buy it because it's not worth my 16 bucks. if strung out goes back to element or even twisted style, i'll buy it.

Anonymous (April 8, 2002)

I have to say that the cd sounds awesome. Three songs really stand out to me as being pretty damn good, but many of the songs sound like filler. Oh yeah......Get over it people, some of the drums are triggered. Doesn't mean he can't play the parts. They should have put Jason's voice through the auto-tune as well. Would have made it so much better. I agree that it will be difficult to ever top Suburban.

Anonymous (April 8, 2002)

This is a very balanced album. With elements of all of their previous material mixed in with some new twists. The album gets better and better with each spin. Although still early, it is very doubtful a better album will be released this year.

Anonymous (April 8, 2002)

I agree with the Reviewer. It is a good CD but not as good as EOSD. I think that this album has some brilliant guitar riffs especially in Kill your scene and Alien Amplifier, but lacks the incredible passion of EOSD.

Anonymous (April 7, 2002)

As always, strung out is the best band in the whole world, and american paradox is the best release of the year (and the thrice one), it has heavy songs, kinda poppy songs, its filled with entertainment, if you like good music buy this one, if you don't, go and buy the ataris...........

Anonymous (April 7, 2002)

saying that the drumming is computerized is quite a compliment to the drummer himself. if there was ever a punk band who had a computer do the drumming instead of, the drummer, holy fuck would they look like a bunch of fucking wankers when they came on stage. i have seen em live, and have had the joy of witnessing the man bash those drums, not press a few buttons on a computer...

Anonymous (April 7, 2002)

I don't understand why everyone's bashing "Cemetery". I think it's quite at good song. it's just a little different that's all. deal with it.

Anonymous (April 5, 2002)

Ok...My only comment has to do with the guy who said that the drums were done by a computer. That is SOOOOOOO not true it's amazing. Jordan is an amazing, amazing drummer and can do things with 2 sticks that 99% of all punk drummers can't even think about doing. I don't know where you got the idea that the drums are computerized, but you couldn't be farther from the truth.

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

One of the most average albums Ive ever heard.

People say it doesnt sound like any of there other albums.....hmmmm.....well, if you swapped half of each albums songs with a different album and gave them to someone who hadnt heard either album, guess what, they wouldnt be phased one bit.

This is the year of melodic punk bands getting off there arses to put out there overdue albums (lagwagon, face to face, NUFAN, Strung out, Whippersnapper, and so on) and like face to face's new one, Strung out decide to put out average.

Its not bad, but its just sort of .....exactly. Just a mild feeling of "okay, that was alright, I guess". I dont hate it, I like "Satellite" a great deal, but its just so-so.

Save your money, borrow it from a friend.
Or buy the new No use for a name album, which is probably one of the few new Fat wreck/Epitaph type bands whose new record sounds like s step up from the last record.

OH, how many of you who post about how "STRUNG OUT RULEZ!" read the review not to read a review of the album but just to check that it was a good review? I mean cmon, are you on there payroll? If the only reason your replying to a review is because you read it for the sole reason of making sure it matched your opinion, join the bands street team instead, or buy commercials for the band on TV. The band can defend themselves, they dont need every kiss ass Caps lock always on internet socialite acting as there PR person.

wyzo

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

i think this album is really good. i'm glad it doesn't sound exactly like suburban teenage.. or twisted by design. it's nice to see a band venture off and do something a little different from their usual style like unkoil. my favorite tracks are cemetery,kill your scene, the kids, and cult. its defintely worth picking up.

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

better than Suburban. word out.

Josip (April 4, 2002)

great, you run a zine and get a promo copy...good for you...but that isn't a reason to bash about people downloading and sharing music over the internet. are you from the fucking RIAA or what? everybody who likes this album will buy it anyway, and if you are soooo unhappy with the situation that everybody can download music, than write a fucking rant and don't put it in a review, lord...

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

this album is amazing. it has the heavy songs and catchy ones. it is a wonderful mix. they have not regressed, they incorporate certain elements from all of their albums. wonderful cd. GO BUY THIS ALBUM ON APRIL 23RD!!!

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

Look!!! I haven't downloaded this album so I really can't judge it all that much. But I've heard 3 songs of it. Alien amplifier, American paradox and Cult... These songs are great. Strung Out has always acheived to make great music. I almost know they won't let me down. You all can go fucking bitch about how poppy it is or how it's a step down but I truely believe that it'll pull though anyway.

Notice that the songs are just as hard hitting as the ones on EOSD (I loved that record too) and not quite as depressing.

PS to the guy who said that the drums were computer made : go shoot yourself cuz you don't know shit.

STRUNG OUT RULEZ

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

oh my god i can't believe no one is mentioning the fact that this album FUCKING SUCKS. go back and listen to suburban teenage wasteland blues and then try to convince yourself that this album is good... this band has really gone down the shitter... all the drumming is done by a computer, and jason, who has an amazing voice when he's trying, is singing out of key half the time... ugh... this is one of the most disappointing albums i've heard in a long time

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

Hey, to all you assholes that called me a hypocrite.... I didn't fucking download the record. I run a zine, and FAT sent me a promo copy... FOR PURPOSES OF REVIEWING AND PROMOTING THE RECORD. Get your story straight before you start pointing fingers. Fucking cunts. I wouldn't bitch about it if I took part in it. Now who's "holier than thou," fucking crybabies?

Duk (April 4, 2002)

I agree about the reviewer...DON"T FUCKING DOWNLOAD IT AND REVIEW IT THEN!! You are complaining about something that you just participated in! HIPPOCRYTE? How WEAK!!!

kirbypuckett (April 4, 2002)

Um, the guy below of me the one who said something about mp3s sounding like crap...Maybe if you download some lo-fi versions, but mp3s are pretty much the same sound quality as cd files. I couldn't tell the difference if you popped in an mp3 cd or a regular cd...digital audio is where it's at...it sucks for some artists, but oh well, i buy the cds that are worth my money.

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

You can't judge this album by mp3s because mp3s sound like crap! Seriously, they cut out all the high and low end, and of course the album won't flow together because you'll get "jumps" between mp3's. Sheesh.

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

great review but you could skip the holier than thou attitude about downloading the release.

Josip (April 4, 2002)

man, the reviewer's dumb...why do you download an album before it's release date, when you bash the people who put it online?! you're such a hypocrite...
to the album: it's good, maybe a bit overproduced, but it's alright

harg (April 4, 2002)

Your review kicks ass over mine good album anyway, i got the actual thing not mp3s though due to a well cool mate.

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

I found this album very enjoyable.........for what it is. If you like this kind of punk, then you will love this record to death. Strung Out has always reminded of a mix between Pennywise and Fugazi- don't ask me why, it just does. This album has it's excellent moments and it's generic ones- but not a single bad one, and that's hard to do. I'm more of a hardcore punk fan myself, but I won't let that reflect in my score, excellent album overall. Cemetery is a really cool track and is finally a radio single that I will actually like. Although Fuck Authority and Sorrow from Pennywise and Bad Religion were great singles as well.

matteatworld (April 4, 2002)

great review!

Anonymous (April 4, 2002)

I agree with most of what the reviewer said. Strung Out has long been one of my favorite bands. I have an old Strung Out shirt that I've worn plenty of holes in over the years. On the other hand, much of this record does seem more like a progression than the reviewer gives credit for in my opinion. I thought EOSD seemed a little darker than the rest of Strung Out's former releases. Despite their heavy sounds and obvious metal influences, I think all their albums need a "Paperwalls" type song or two to maintain curiosity throughout the CD. I think American Paradox has a great progression from start to end. The first track, as usual, is a very very strong track and will stick in your head for days. Though the album does have its more melodic moments in Cemetary and Alien Amplifier (both excellent tracks in my opinion) there's also the classic SO songs that will satisfy the hardest-core of their fans, like American Paradox and Unkoil. I don't think this band can ever outdo Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues, but they can come close again as they did with Twisted By Design. American Paradox is not a masterpiece, but is another amazing addition to SO's catalog.

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