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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Slighted

We Change Lives

Review by Rick Damigella

We Change Lives is a punk rock record played with the raw power of the first-gen So Cal hardcore punk scene, but played by musicians with a vastly better pedigree than many run of the mill bands. These are not kids attempting to cobble together proto-thrash in their parent’s garage. The Slighted are a Los Angeles quartet who have built a debut album of ferocious songs which should appeal to the punk crowd. There is also a pair of interesting numbers which lean more towards the stoner scene, but you don’t have to be one to still appreciate them. Having seen The Slighted perform live several months before We Change Lives was released I can say the energy the band unleashes flows equally well from amps as it will from your speakers. The Slighted is Westcott on vocals, Wheels on drums, Rudy on Guitar and Noah on Bass.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Tight Leash

The album opener immediately tells your ears The Slighted are a band of the 21st century that knows there is no school like the old school. With heavy distortion on the bass, guitar and vocals and a retro-sensibility to the overall production, it would be understandable if a virgin listener unaware of whom they are hearing, were to assume this is a long lost recording from the early days of punk rock. That is what makes this song and much of the album such a great listen for fans of the genre.

X-99

Here’s a short, sharp, in-your-face blast of punk that is worthy of making the pogo an acceptable dance form again. Westcott snarls out his vocals in commanding fashion so as not to be lost in the sonic aggression of the other musicians.

La Palma

The Slighted sticks with the no-BS aesthetic of a fast aural assault on this track. After an opening riff that sets up the core rhythm, Rudy changes up the guitar lines nicely, to run counter to Noah’s bass.

Storage

A noise loop out of the previous number runs directly into this one. It ends with Wheels’ drums leading into a renewed sturm und drang guitar and bass attack. If Westcott’s vocals don’t have you starting to mosh by this point, you’re doing it wrong.

Light Ladder

After four pieces of properly powerful punk, The Slighted mixes things up in a much slower, bass heavy groove. Rudy puts down some dirty 60’s garage band guitar lines and a killer, slow pick drag, both to great effect. Westcott’s vocals actually get even more intense on this number, reaching into realms of near full-on screaming, but without degenerating into mindless screaming for the sake of it. Clocking in at nearly four and half minutes, this is the longest track on the album, so far.

Cocaine Dresser

The pace gets ramped back up quickly, with a return to punkier lines. As on many of the album’s songs, Noah plays his distorted bass more like a guitar, which holds things together while letting Rudy either play in tandem or go off exploring sonic areas to enhance the song, both of which as he does here.

Don’t Want To

The previous number flows right into this one without a break in the ending feedback loop. As with each song on We Change Lives, Wheels pounds her drums on this number with a fury. It is always great when a band puts together liner notes including their lyrics (as the Slighted have) so you can read through the angst of the vocals if you so wish.

Tin Can

Rudy opens things with a dissonant guitar line as Wheels sets up the pace with well-placed skin pounding. Noah and Westcott join in quickly, turning this song into glorious proof that hardcore punk is alive and well.

Hey Smuggy

And now for my favorite track on the album. The first time I spun “We Change Lives” I was immediately impressed with The Slighted’s punk sound, but I wasn’t prepared for the album closer, 14 plus minutes of an utterly fantastic blend of punk aesthetic with a churning, mixed-pace of instrumentation. On initial listen to it I thought, “it just keeps going but is staying interesting.” The song picks up pace slightly at the 4:40 mark and more so at six minutes. What’s great about this song is that it doesn’t drone aimlessly. Noah’s bass does provide a general tone, but throughout the cut, Rudy’s guitar mixes things up in interesting ways, with Wheels applying appropriate drive and tempo changes at just the right places. It is not an instrumental, but the lyrics are sparse with Westcott drifting in and out of the piece throughout. From 7:30 to 10:30 things slow down again. During this passage it is fair to say The Slighted is now in stoner punk mode. As things begin to speed up slightly, Rudy ventures into more adventurous areas with his six-string. At 13 minutes or so the band careens back into a punkier vibe lasting until the feedback soaked fade out. I am almost tempted to call this “punk prog” at this point, but really, it’s just one of nine really good reasons to experience them yourself and see if The Slighted change your life.

 
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