CD Review of Left of Self-Centered by Butch Walker
Label
Arista
Butch Walker:
Left of Self-Centered

Reviewed by Mike Farley

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T
his is hands-down the best album I've heard in a long time. There, I said it. After getting dropped by his former label, Elektra, with his band Marvelous 3, Butch Walker has taken all that potential negative energy over to Arista. He's gone back to writing songs the way he wants -- with giant hooks, witty lyrics and balls-to-the-wall rock. The result is as brilliant as straight-ahead rock music gets, and it's a big "f-you" to Elektra and the state of the music industry today.

It starts out with "Rock Vocal Power," a satire of radio today and how it seems anyone can sound like Creed and get signed. "My Way" is about the same thing, how the record industry is churning out cookie cutters and brainwashing everyone into how they should sound and dress and live their lives: "So you grew up in a town where everybody's all the same / Like a city full of zombies going by the same name / Saying eat this, wear that, think ya know just where it's at / When everybody's just alike, now tell me how you deal with that." I could go on all day about Walker's lyrics, but there's not enough Web space. In "Suburbia" he takes ordinary people and makes them sound pathetic, and absolutely like neighbors we've all known.

"Alicia Amnesia" is about a stripper who takes his money and doesn't know his name, and has some Aerosmith-type guitar riffs to drive it. "Sober" is a love-gone-wrong song that we've all experienced, the difference being the feeling Walker puts into his music that makes us pay attention. "Far Away From Close" has a chorus that won't leave your head for days and "Into the Black" has a Goo Goo Dolls-like haunting quality. This masterpiece concludes with an acoustic anthem called "Take Tomorrow" and the hilarious outtake "Get Stupid With You."

If you like bands such as Cheap Trick and the Goo Goo Dolls, or if you loved the first Marvelous 3 album but wondered what happened to them after that, this one will make everything right. You'll forget that a lot of the crap out there is, well, crap. Walker gives us hope that good songs do matter and someone can make a record full of them.

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