CD Review of Burned Again by Stiffed

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Burned Again
starstarstarno starno star Label: Outlook Music Company
Released: 2005
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One might guess that based on cover art alone, Stiffed is likely a retro 80’s pop/rock/punk band, and one would be right. Stiffed is a band perfectly content with delivering to the genre and not trying to aspire past their capabilities, as is demonstrated in the 15 time capsule tracks of their debut LP, Burned Again. Clearly influenced by the Clash and No Doubt (bet you didn’t think you’d ever hear those two band names in the same sentence, did you?), Stiffed covers every gamut the genre can possibly cover.

It’s the one-two punch of tracks five and six, “What It’s Like” and the title track, respectively, that shows off the band’s range. The no-nonsense power chord shredding by guitarist Matt Schleck on “What It’s Like” anchors the 90-second song, while Stiffed quickly shifts moods to the ballad-like “Burned Again.” “Your Voice” even has a bit of a reggae vibe to it. Not many styles can get away with this type of melodic shift, but Stiffed makes sure the bass (mightily handled by Chris Shar) is always cranked and the catchy hooks are in tow.

Vocalist Santi White is the true driving force of Stiffed, sounding like a dead ringer for a pre-obnoxious sellout Gwen Stefani back in her No Doubt days. She brings a smooth singing style and plenty of energy to each song, particularly on the aforementioned title track and the record’s showcase head bouncer, “Radio.” Added to her already fantastic vocals are a host of background singers who bring nice depth and spirit to each of these party-worthy tracks

The problems with the album are common among freshman offerings, starting with the lackluster lyrics that are plenty catchy, but get monotonous over the course of 15 songs in their lack of creativity. The same problem arises, albeit not near as much, with the music. Instead of making fifteen sub-three minute songs, Stiffed would be better off expanding their ideas into longer songs while still maintaining the same groove hooks and summer party vibe.

Stiffed is still a band to watch for if you dig this retro-style smorgasbord of genres. They’re more talented than a lot of the triple power chord Ramones wannabes out there. If you’re planning an outdoor summer shindig with an ‘80s theme, I hereby present the soundtrack for your event. It’s rad!

~Bill Clark