CD Review of The Hit List by Unwritten Law

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The Hit List
starstarno starno starno star Label: Rocket Science
Released: 2006
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You gotta give credit to Southern California rock band Unwritten Law. Every label they have been on has dropped them, but instead of seeking a new deal this time, they decided to throw the middle finger up to the major labels. The result is a self-released collection of the band’s best material, re-recorded so that they own the masters, with a few new tracks thrown in for good measure. It’s called The Hit List, and while you can’t argue with a loyal fan base and a few modern rock chartings, it’s definitely a stretch calling more than one of these songs “hits.”

Unwritten Law is a band that has sought to find its own identity over the course of the last 14 years, so instead of trying to lump themselves into the modern rock or pop/punk formats, they decided it would be best to record these songs in 2006 and try to make them sound like one thing. That is, like Unwritten Law sounds in 2006 – a southern California rock band with flavors of Blink 182 and Linkin Park, but mostly sounding like a band that has mediocre material at best.

The band’s first single, “Cailin,” is on here and it’s a minor miracle that this song landed on any chart, because it’s a complete snoozefest. The melodic “Seein’ Red” is here as well, and this one was a number one single on the modern rock charts that actually deserved that honor because it completely kicks ass. The other single, “Up All Night” sounds like a watered down Everlast – and you probably don’t remember them, so there you have it. The first new single, “Shoulda Known Better,” starts off acoustically and then morphs into a potent rock song. It’s not bad, but not particularly memorable either. Fan favorite “Superman” and “Teenage Suicide,” from 1998’s self-titled release, also made the cut and are sort of catchy, but for the most part this collection will have you yawning in no time.

While record labels can’t be blamed for taking a chance on a band that has had any semblance of radio success, they also can’t be blamed for dropping a band like Unwritten Law. Because when mediocrity rears its ugly head and casts a shadow over a band for long periods of time, the guys in suits are left with no choice. So kudos to Unwritten Law for moving on and putting out The Hit List for their fans and for themselves, but don’t be surprised if this band stays independent.

~Mike Farley