Monday, October 15, 2012

Album Review: Trash Talk's 119

I first listened to Trash Talk around 2007 or 2008 when I was in high school and didn’t really have a good grasp on hardcore. On the recommendation of a forum I frequented, I checked out their self titled and I hated it. I just absolutely hated it. It was so noisey and abrasive and had no discernible song structure, and I was just a little baby who liked pop-punk. It was a horrible introduction to hardcore and I wasn’t comfortable checking them out again until I had really gotten into the genre.

Now, five years later, they’ve released 119. I’m sure that if this was the record I was introduced to in high school, I would have gotten into hardcore much earlier. That’s not necessarily a compliment, but at the same time, I’m not deriding it outright. 119, if nothing else, is accessible. It’s loud, but not noisy; it’s political, but not in a complex way; it’s fast, but not thrash; and finally, It’s slow but never gets to the apex of stoner hardcore. It’s essentially tailor-made as a jumping off point for people who haven’t listened to hardcore. That’s not a bad thing though. There’s nothing bad with being a “gateway” band for a genre. Exclusivity is dumb, so if you can get a person into a genre, great.

I guess this album is just a bit disappointing. It always feels as if it’s going to break and explode into the glorious exercise of violence that Trash Talk was in the past, but it never really does. 119 is essentially a longer, less noisey, more boring version of last year’s Awake EP. Well, perhaps boring is a bit harsh. I do enjoy listening to this album, and skating to it is quite fun.  

It has a much stronger first half than it does second. “Eat the Cycle” is a great opener and “My Rules” is enjoyable mosh bait. The only really, really strong song on the album is lead single “F.E.B.N.” Things get dicey about the time the band decided to have Hodgy Beats and Tyler, The Creator spit verses on “Blossom and Burn”, a song that otherwise would have been the stand out track of 119. I understand the band probably enjoys working with their bosses - as they are signed to Odd Future Records - but this was the largest misstep of the entire record. Hodgy’s verse is passable, as it fits in with the mix, but Tyler’s verse is god-awful. I’ve never been Tyler’s biggest fan, but the verse is embarrassing. I’m a big believer that hip-hop and hardcore, at their roots, are very similar and can be used together to great effect. I still believe that, but “Blossum and Burn” certainly is not that product. From there, the record just tends to drag. 119 is only 22 minutes, but it feels like 35, which is a far too ambitious time marker for a hardcore band.

If you have any interest in hardcore but don't know where to start, 119 is a good jumping off point. If you like hardcore and haven’t listened to Trash Talk, skip 119 and just listen to Awake.

Final Grade: C

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