Street Drum Corps - Street Drum Corps [CD/DVD] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Street Drum Corps

Street Drum Corps [CD/DVD] (2006)


Street Drum Corps is often described as a "punk rock STOMP," referring to the popular found-percussion-based performers, and released their first official track, a cover of John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" on the recent Taste of Christmas compilation. The reaction was mixed, but that had less to do with the band itself than their celebrity vocalist, Bert McCracken of the Used and their choice of an anti-war John Lennon anthem. Between McCracken and the subject matter, little attention was paid to a band that actually boasts a significant amount of creativity and initiative.

The description as a "punk rock STOMP" is fairly accurate mind you; the band takes a mixture of found instruments, samplers and random chanting, yelling and assorted noise. In some ways, it's an hastily organized version of the kind of street performers that adorn city streets every summer and despite the sheer simplicity of it, it's actually quite compelling.

This kind of project isn't exactly without precedent mind you, in fact, Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris embarked on a similar, though more refined path in the early `90s with his Scorn project. Like Harris, the drummers in Street Drum Corps do understand that drummers can actually carry a band, and thousands of years of traditional African music might suggest the same. Of course, it's remarkably tough to make something like this interesting and the Corps' debut is gracefully short; seven actual songs is what you get, plus a disc full of live performances which actually fleshes out the package nicely.

Despite the creativity demonstrated in the few songs, which focus heavily on rhythms and simply chanting, there are some small problems with the recording, though far less blame can be placed on the performers and far more on the producer. Even though the percussion is clearly the most important part of the album, the production is thin and completely lacking in bass; music like this needs to be felt in the chest, and the shrill recording of the rhythm is disappointing.

Thankfully, the live disc doesn't suffer from this weakness, and in a lot of ways, is definitely the saving grace of the package. The immediacy of the live performance combined with much better sound makes it the highlight of the package. I have no doubt that this band is a blast live.

Overall, Street Drum Corps has composed a solid release, sadly hindered by lackluster production, but is redeemed by a indisputably fun live disc. It's not songwriting in the conventional sense, so that may throw some people off, but it's a lot of fun and worth checking out.