The Scarred - At Half Mast (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Scarred

At Half Mast (2009)


Before the label's impending dormancy and announcement of hiatus, one of Punk Core Records' best releases was the Scarred's No Solution. Rather than the label's typical hardcore street punk of the Casualties, Career Soldiers and A Global Threat, the Scarred embraced a more traditional street punk sound rooted in pervasive melodies and mid-tempo rhythms.

Fast-forward to 2009 and the Scarred had jumped ship for the more active Basement Records and gone from aping Cock Sparrer and the Business to aping mid-'90s Green Day. With high-quality production and a snotty faux-nasal vocal approach not unlike that of Billie Joe Armstrong, At Half Mast is close to having crossover appeal.

If you don't believe me, try this: Play the Scarred's "2009" for your undiscerning friends and see if it isn't immediately assumed to be Green Day. The same would probably work for the catchy tunes of "Vice" and "Panic!" as lead singer Justin Willits spouts "Paranoia, mind control, but what can I do? / There's not a lotta options left for me and you / Terrorism, nihilism, violent warning / Just when you thought your life was getting boring."

At times, though, the band really comes into their own, like on the hook-filled "21st Century Girl," despite a chorus dangerously close to "Nice Guys Finish Last." The album's hidden track is a rather enjoyable punk-lite number employing hand drums, tambourine and a fuzzy electric guitar, all wrapped together with a memorable melody and vituperative punk lyrics.

The band pays sardonic tribute to their hometown in "Anaheim," a feisty street anthem that goes about a minute too long at 3:10 before another 90 seconds of silence leading into the hidden track. "Lowlife" is a slightly retooled version of the same song that appeared on their debut LP, Repression, which is decent but not all that different from the original. The only real dud on the disc is "Medicate Me," which lacks any hooks but tries to make up for it in redundancy.

Despite the bad luck that has plagued their journey, the Scarred has forged on to deliver their best yet on At Half Mast, a catchy and energetic record that will appeal to fans of street punk and pop-punk alike.