Down By Law / Pseudo Heroes - Split CD (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Down By Law / Pseudo Heroes

Split CD (2000)


Dave Smalley must think he's really special. Of course, with his history in the hardcore scene, I probably would think so, too. The only thing is, after Dag Nasty, it was all downhill. I still don't like Down By Law. I've given them chance after chance, and they have yet to impress me. The Sharpshooters, Dave's other band, don't sound much different from DBL in my opinion, and I tend to pass on them also. Luckily, Sam from Down By Law can write good music, which he does with ease with Pseudo Heroes.

Pseudo Heroes are the brainchild of Down By Law guitar player Sam Williams. Their five songs on here really, really rock. The overall sound in my ears is Leatherface meets Husker Du in a dark alley. In other words, it's most assuredly punk rock, but with great melody, and Sam's voice is gravelly but not to the point where you can't understand what he's saying [see: Franky Stubbs of Leatherface]. There's also plenty of that good old "pop sensibility" that all of us critics love to talk about, coupled with the "power trio" sound. Sam must have saved all of his good guitar hooks for his side project, as they most assuredly beat Down By Law in this battle of the bands.

Down By Law, in a sign of laziness, contribute 5 songs, all of which are covers, all of which were recorded live in Europe. Some might think that's cool, I think it's a sign of complacency. DBL covers The Who, AC/DC, The Clash, Cheap Trick, and Lynyrd Skynyrd on this disc, all to varying degrees of mediocrity. The best one by far is the cover of "Surrender," since Sam sings lead on it instead of Dave. This lets Dave harmonize freely, which he does very well. It's about the only bright spot in their contribution to this CD.

It seems like with every split CD, one band comes out smelling like roses, one comes out smelling like shit. This one is no different, as I still loathe Down By Law, but now am excited for Pseudo Heroes' full length [coming out soon, I'm told].