Not mere child’s play on Social Distortions latest

Not mere child's play on Social Distortions latest

Lead singer Mike Ness belts some lyrics in his signature gritty, country-punk style.

Jen Vogl, Staff Writer

Social Distortion delivers an album four years in the making with “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes.” Since the band has been playing for more than 25 years, they know exactly what works, and they have polished and perfected their style to match.

Frontman Mike Ness sings in his familiar gritty voice, but softens his tone and shows some vulnerability in songs like “Bakersfield” and “Writing on the Wall.” However, the pleasure that Ness takes in singing his tough-guy lyrics shows throughout the album, especially in tracks like “Machine Gun Blues.”

The guitar work remains solid in this album and shines through especially on the first track, the instrumental track “Road Zombie.” Guitar also figures in heavily in other tracks such as “Alone and Forsaken” and “Can’t Take It With You.” The guitars still have their gritty sound of albums past because of the band’s use of overdriven tube amplifiers, but the guitar work has become more refined than their earlier albums.

While most songs pick a tempo and stick with it in “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes,” “California (Hustle and Flow)” speeds up with about a minute to go in the track. The result takes a song that was beginning to drag and finishes it off with a bang.

Social Distortion carved a niche for itself back in the 80s and early 90s with its distinctive “cow punk” sound. This new album sticks to the tried and true method that Ness has kept going since the nineties. Because of this, the album sounds much more polished and perfected than others out there, which may disappoint fans who were looking for something a little more rough.

While “Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes” may not be mind-blowingly different or a new venture into a previously unexplored area of music production, it’s a decent album that displays the years of work that Social Distortion put into it.