Punknews.org
Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine - The Audacity of Hype (Cover Artwork)

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine: The Audacity of HypeThe Audacity of Hype (2009)
Alternative Tentacles Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:


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

Heroes tend to be in a tricky situation. There's an expectation born out of their legend. Even more so difficult is the position of punk rock grandfather--no matter how legendary or huge you've become, your roots started small, and living up to expectations isn't number one on your plate. And wit.
Amazon


Heroes tend to be in a tricky situation. There's an expectation born out of their legend. Even more so difficult is the position of punk rock grandfather--no matter how legendary or huge you've become, your roots started small, and living up to expectations isn't number one on your plate.

And with that grandiose paragraph, let's take an examination of Jello Biafra's first true solo album in, well, maybe ever. Previous collaborations with NoMeansNo and Melvins had Biafra fronting the groups and taking a lead in songwriting, but those musicians were a pre-existing band with distinct playing styles, and the results were stellar and amazing collaborations. The Guantanamo School of Medicine is an all-star cast of Alternative Tentacles players from years past, but assembled together, they aren't much more than Jello's backing band. And that's probably the biggest issue with The Audacity of Hype.

Biafra's vocals are spot on as always, his songwriting is tight, cranking out hybrid punk riffs and the GSOM can crank it out like, well, a group of punk veterans with road-tested chops. But starting with "Terror of Tinytown" and running through "I Won't Give Up," the song structures get a bit repetitive. The production value brings a few tracks dangerously close to modern rock territory, and it may not be what most hardcore Dead Kennedys fans would be expecting of the late band's (no matter what you think, that band is indeed dead) charismatic frontman.

But isn't that the point? Biafra has long been touted as a rabble-rousing genius who's been held back by his legal battles and running a label. Well, this is his unadulterated solo output, and Biafra's chance to show the world that he does have the ability to pull together a riff and four chords into a powerhouse political burner with poignant satirical lyrics. And he's accomplished that. The tempo may be a bit slower, the band may not be as adventurous as Melvins or NoMeansNo, but who cares?

"Clean as a Thistle" breaks down political campaigning quicker than Jon Stewart, and "New Feudalism" cranks out hard and fast riffs, showing the listener what punk should have sounded like for the past 20 years instead of the weird melodic turn it took from NOFX. So put the album on a pedestal, or flush it down the toilet. Chances are Jello Biafra isn't going to give a shit, because he's recorded the album he wanted to on his own time, and did it without bowing to the pressure.

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Dead Kennedys - FrankenchristThe Clash - London CallingDescendents - Milo Goes To CollegeDead Kennedys - Fresh Fruit For Rotting VegetablesDead Kennedys - Plastic Surgery DisastersDead Kennedys - In God We Trust Inc. EPOperation Ivy - Operation IvyRamones - RamonesJello Biafra and The Guantanamo School of Medicine - White People and the Damage DoneHot Water Music - Fuel For The Hate Game

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
the_other_scott (March 10, 2010)

the last sentence of this review is ridiculous.

Misanthropee (March 10, 2010)

I was extremely disappointed by this after how much I loved the Jelvins. The inappropriately lo-fi recording takes the wind out of the few standout tracks, which are mostly old anyway. Bummer.

Peking_Spring_Rolls (March 9, 2010)

I was super excited by the studio re-workings of those No WTO Combo songs but unfortunately those ended up being my favorite ones of the nine. In my head I can only really drum up the melodies of those, "Clean as a Thistle" and "I Won't Give In," the last of which is pretty bad. I think I've listened to this maybe three times since it came out, including once last week. It just doesn't really register.

2.5/5 stars.

carlo_cabinetti (March 9, 2010)

"weird melodic turn it took from NOFX"...uh? Decent review, that comment is a bit odd though

johngentile (March 9, 2010)

This album is pretty good, although I wonder if some of the songs could have been cut in half. I would say it is among his best work, but not quite as good as Sieg Howdy, fresh fruit, or Plastic Surgery.

Exclusive Streams

Sponsored


The Fest 13

Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Other Places to Go