Mouthpiece - Can't Kill What's Inside: The Complete Discography (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Can't Kill What's Inside: The Complete Discography (2009)


Pop-punk nerds my age probably most remember Mouthpiece as "that band with the guitarist that eventually formed Saves the Day." Revelation Records' release of Can't Kill What's Inside ensures that Mouthpiece's legacy will go well beyond that Sean McGrath (RIP) footnote.

A comprehensive discography, Can't Kill What's Inside collects the entire recorded output of the 1990s youth-crew revivalists, as well as some previously unreleased live material and enhanced footage from a 1996 CBGB show. A sound that pulled sporadic elements from Chain of Strength and It's Always Darkest-era Turning Point among others of that time (I hear some early Shelter in here, too), Mouthpiece's take on the style wasn't super heavy or moshy, but it was intense. Sometimes they took a fierce midtempo stance that allowed for an articulate, comprehensible delivery of their ideas, which put great stock in personal values and communication. Vocalist Tim McMahon had the more ideal vocal style for this type of hardcore, too -- straightforward, strained and youthful.

The band seemed at their best right in the midst of their original run. 1994's What Was Said full-length -- the band's only proper studio album -- is a document of desperation and urgency paradoxically characterized by restraint and thoughtfulness. "Hold Back" isn't brilliantly worded, but it perfectly emphasizes the benefit of talking out problems over duking them out. There's a great sense of musical reflection is the dynamically structured "Column," as well. However, the self-titled 7" is pretty great too and actually sounds a little more well-recorded; in particular, there's "Can We Win," with a chanted breakdown that sounds as if Have Heart directly lifted it for "About Face."

Can't Kill What's Inside is topped off by liner notes that are almost fully packed. Lyrics for every song are available (save the live stuff) and a plethora of live shots over the years. The real highlight, though, is the detailed listing of every show the band has played, including the reunion shows in 2000 and 2004. You get city, state, other bands on the bill and, in most cases, the venue. It's sort of mind-blowing to read through and interesting to see what show lineups some of us missed out on over the years. The only thing I'd say missing is mentioning which tracks come from what release.

Mouthpiece was certainly never the most original band of their time, but they were inspired, and this definitive collection helps shed a better light on it.