by Derric Miller
– Managing Editor –
It’s been a few years—ok almost seven—but Teenage Casket Company (TCC) is back with a new studio album called Still Standing. For their career, these musicians have found a way to meld Punk attitude with Hard Rock melodies and make a hybrid form of music that is some of the best Rock music being composed on the planet today. Still Standing is a welcomed release at a time of stagnation, contrived blather and pseudo-musicianship in today’s auto-tuned, programmed, and antiseptic Hard Rock scene.
The title track kicks things off, and if you’ve heard TCC before, you know how adept they are at penning anthems. It takes all of a minute into the album and you’ll hear a powerful, uplifting chorus with smart lyrics mixed with adrenaline and bravado. “’Cuz when I’m on my knees I’ll stand my ground!” is the best lyric, perhaps on the entire release; it makes you want to get a TCC tattoo on your forehead.
They continue next with another energetic call to arms, “First Night of Your Life.” Again, like “Still Standing,” it’s about living life to the fullest, never giving up, putting your head down and running through whatever obstacle tries to get in your way. It’s refreshing hearing this kind of music again; TCC doesn’t really sound like any other band today. The addition of swirling keys adds a poppy element to this typically straight ahead unit.
One of their singles is “(You Only Love Me) When You Hate Me.” Anyone who’s been married or in a too-long relationship has probably thought or maybe even said these words to their significant other. While too melodic for a direct comparison, bands like Nickelback and Puddle of Mud have turned this sort of “I hate love” vibe into chart success. Here’s hoping TCC can do the same, because it’s better than those aforementioned bands’ singles, for the most part.
Now the fun starts … the American Psychological Association says that 40-50 percent of marriages in the States end in divorce, and studies show in the European Union, Britain has the highest divorce rate, comparable to that of the U.S. Thus “Make It Through the Night” was born. Wylde wrote the song after experiencing a gut-wrenching divorce, but aren’t they all? Instead of taking the angry way out (here, anyway) Wylde wrote a poignant near power ballad, examining the feelings of isolation, the feelings of failure, and when he sings, “It’s hard enough to breathe … tell me how the hell do I sleep?” he’s opening himself up, which is a brave thing to do. The message aside, it’s one of the best ballads the band has ever written and recorded. You can connect with it regardless of your walk through life … there’s just a lot of meat on these bones.
They jerk you out of your depressed stupor next with “Best Friend is My Radio,” which you could find on their compilation Best Kept Secret. Again, it’s a fist-pumping ass-kicking anthem, making you feel like you just red-lined Red Bull.
It’s not all love and uplift, though. “Dead in America” is one of the heaviest, meanest, pissed off songs they’ve ever written. This may be the anti-toxin to “Make It Through the Night.” There’s two sides to every divorce, and with Wylde spitting out “I’m gone and I’m never coming back! Don’t try to stop me cuz I’m so far gone now … I’m dead!” you may have some insight into the darker side of divorce. If the lyrics and venomous delivery of the vocals don’t depict it enough for you … listen to the voice mail after the guitar solo.
It’s pretty damn difficult to find a song you won’t like on Still Standing, which is outside the norm. “Takes a Little Time” has that anger to it, awesome placement of the f-bomb, and melodies catchier than herpes. “Without You” is a mid-tempo rocker, full of sing along “na na na” passages and visual lyrics like “It hurts a little stronger, cuts a little deeper, scars a little more.” The Butch Walker/Erik Turner written cover “Girl” has all of the underrated Butch Walker pop brilliance. Even though there’s a few darker areas on Still Standing, the last new song “Kings of the World” has a Goo Goo Dolls brush stroke, akin to the track “Rebel Beat” off their newest release.
They end it all with a remake of “I Believe in You,” updated for 2013. This song is one of the few keyboard-led tracks here, haunting, touching, making you think that just maybe, all of the pain in the songs before still make finding that one person to love is worth it every time. “All the things you said keep playing through my head, tell me why should I believe in you?” OK, strike that … this song is haunting as hell, but it’s not “touching.” They are saying run like hell, kids … run away before it’s too late. Sage advice and great music.
On that happy note, TCC have firmly outdone themselves on Still Standing. It has absolutely everything you are looking for in a Pop Punk/Hard Rock release, and nothing you hate—like vacuous lyrics, repetitive riffing track to track and basically artless wanking. These guys are the real deal. Now it’s up to the rest of the world to finally figure that out as well.
Genre: Hard Rock
Rob Wylde—vocals and guitar
Rob Lane—bass and vocals
Dave Kerr—lead guitar
1. Still Standing
2. First Night of Your Life
3. (You Only Love Me) When You Hate Me
4. Make It Through the Night
5. Best Friend is My Radio
6. Dead in America
7. Takes a Little Time
8. Without You
10. Kings of the World
11. I Believe in You (2013)
Hardrock Haven rating: 8.9/10