Tuesday, June 27, 2006

SOS - A Guide to Better Living CD Review

There’s a lot to be said for dedication, especially when it comes to your job. No one wants to hire an employee who could really care less about what he or she is actually doing. Why do you think that the people who shoot up corporate ladder are the ones who give themselves over to their jobs (or altogether brown-nose a little too much)? Dedication gets them there.

On the flip side, however, you have those people that get way too dedicated to something that really shouldn’t have their dedication, such as those nerds that spend every free hour of every day painting Warhammer 40,000 figurines or study how their Magic deck stacks up against the new 23rd series expansion spell cards. It’s cool that they paint a figure occasionally or play Magic, but when it becomes something that a person does over and over and over again, becoming their life, all you can do is pity the person. The same can be said for bands that are dedicated, but keep hammering out the same stuff over and over and over again or are stuck creating music that has been done so much better by others and simply not realizing it.

SOS has been a part of the punk and hardcore scene since 1994 and has continued churning out new music and new records in the New York scene over the last decade, but unfortunately there isn’t all that much to note about them besides their persistence. A Guide to Better Living feels like it bubbled out of the early 90’s underground punk scene, a scene that had altogether too much Black Flag and Minor Threat worship going on.

One thing that SOS actually has that keeps this album from being a complete disaster, however, is variety. Throughout the 17 tracks on this album there is a decent variety between heavier, straight ahead hardcore influenced punk jams and the bouncier street punk tunes. That being said, not many of the songs really stand out in the least.

This is stuff you’ve heard 10 times over from the bands in your local punk scene, and it definitely sounds like it was recorded by a local band as well. The production values on here make this effort sound as if it actually was recorded in 1994. I’ve heard demos with much better sound quality, but maybe they’re going for the old school, DIY sound. Regardless, when you sound like a simplistic local artist, that’s the way people are going to think of you and treat you, which means don't expect to branch out beyond your local, cult fanbase.

Congratulations are in order for the members of SOS for carrying on as long as they have, but they simultaneously deserve a strong slap on the wrist for not trying to do anything more than wallow in their mediocrity.

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