Benzene - Old Shoes (Cover Artwork)


Old Shoes (2005)


Bands with a troubled history are almost more common than not. South Korea is no exception and the band Benzene seems to have had particularly bad luck. However, with the release of Old Shoes, a monstrous two-disc album documenting the history of the band, they have produced a testament to their hard work and perseverance even when things seemed to crash down around them.

Benzene is a three-piece melodic skate-punk band taking cues from NUFAN and NOFX but often emphasizing a little more of their jazz influence. They formed in 2000 and through their short history underwent several lineup changes, released a six-track EP and landed tracks on two compilations. Then early last year a traffic accident caused the drummer to quit and the band to fall apart. Despite his band leaving him, Ben (singer/guitarist) dug in to finish recording the songs they had written.

Old Shoes is enhanced and contains 31 songs, a music video, several live videos, and many live and rare photos. All the artwork, videos and recordings are of a very high quality, even more amazing since the CD was independently released with Ben producing, recording, mixing, and mastering all the tracks himself in his home, as well as doing most of the video and art design, including the enhanced CD, himself. Several of the tracks were recorded with the other members but the vast majority of them were done after the disintegration of the band with Ben playing all the parts himself. Overcoming all this, the record is still able to capture the sound and excitement that Benzene generated over the course of their career.

It is hard to name standout tracks for a 31-song album. However, the title track "Old Shoes," "Hey, Old Maid," "You Guys Suck" and pretty much any track that uses jazz/ska injections stick in my mind. The style stays fairly consistent moving between songs made up of jazz/ska breakdowns, wondering bass lines, NOFX-esque crunchy guitars and harmonic vocals and more melodic vocals similar to other Fat-style bands.

The enhanced CD also gives fans a chance to watch six live recordings and browse through a huge collection of live and rare photos documenting the band's history as well as a period of time in the Korean punk scene. The video for "Old Shoes" (the song), a video interview and a ‘making of the album' documentary are an added bonus. Packaged all together, this provides an intimate view of a band that should be remembered for their hard work. We wish them all better luck next time around.

You Guys Suck
A Part Of Mine
Song For Love