CD Review of Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands 10 by Various Artists

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Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands 10
starno starno starno starno star Label: Warcon
Released: 2006
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Step right up, kids, and feast your ears upon this year’s Battle of the Bands, sponsored by Ernie Ball geetar strings. The 14 groups here have all appeared on the Ernie Ball stage at the Vans Warped Tour of 2006. As the back of the CD says in an exploding graphic, “The best of the best from Warped Tour, these bands were hand-picked out of 11,500 ENTRIES!” Whose hand did the picking? Could a chicken skilled at tic-tac-toe have picked better bands to represent here? We’ll never know, for that’s far too scientific to delve into here.

Hey now, first up we have Meriwether and their gut-churning anthem “R.I.P. New Orleans.” It sounds big and bloated and far too outdated. Sort of like Creed coming together with Live coming together with Rock Star Supernova. You know those crazy kids go for that stuff, right? Sure, ya do. The band’s heart was probably in the right place, but this song sucks the big one. Hey get that chicken in here to see if it can pick a better opener for Volume 11 in the series.

Next up is Brightwood and a terrible power ballad entitled “Sit Still.” Another band that sounds just a few years too late. Is that chicken ready to go? We may need it a bit sooner than we thought. How’s the third band, then? Yeah, that kooky act known as the Brotherhood of Dae Han? They’ve got that song called “Bury Me.” Lemme listen…oh yeah, that’s terrible as well. All chunky chords and wailing, nearly out of tune vocals. Is atonal the new black? Do youngsters really skate to this stuff?

Well that’s three depressing songs down. Surely there’s a bright spot coming up, right? No? You’re kidding me. Mayday Parade’s “When I Get Home You’re So Dead” isn’t a toe-tapper? Christ, no, it’s just more boring, bland rock masquerading as hard rock masquerading as something someone would actually want to hear. Next! C’mon now, don’t be shy. Who is this? Ah yes, it’s Natives of the New Dawn and their song “People.” No, it’s not the Streisand thingy. It’s a proactive song. It’s trying to funk, but it’s too wordy (yes, you know kids don’t like words), and it fails completely. Actually, this has to be some of the worst funk I’ve ever heard. It almost veers on shitty jam band territory.

What are these bands like A Heartwell Ending termed as? Hard emo? Emo punkcore? Punkcore pop suicide? Crap? Their song “Give Up to Give In” is the sound that makes millions turn their radio knobs instantly. These guys were “hand-picked,” too. Hand-picked from 11,500 ENTRIES, no less. Unfortunately, the CD booklet gives no indication as to who’s guilty of doing the picking. Can’t blame them, really. Still, I wouldn’t mind hearing some of the acts they thought were terrible compared to these bands so far.

Okay, let’s get through the next three really quickly just to liven up the pace. And Then I Turned Seven (change the name, it sucks) gives us “Headspin.” It sounds like wimpy acoustic emo puke. The Flatliners (more originality) arrive with “Bad News,” which is – get this – hardcore ska! Who the fuck plays this stuff anymore? Guh. And then! And then we have As Blood Runs Black (ooh, more dark sounding shit) with “In Dying Days,” that is one of those nu-metal crappers with Cookie Monster vocals and one monotonous fast beat that no one could care less about.

Who won this battle? Certainly it couldn’t have been the Midnight Renewal, who turn in bad funking on “The Lottery.” Nor could it be Karate High School with more plain vanilla we’re-kinda-loud-and-fast shenanigans on “Twice Upon a Time (110%).” My Favorite Highway’s “How to Call a Bluff” is not instructional as much as it is something that makes you look at your watch over and over again. And Hometown Anthem’s “Like No Other” is indeed striving to be an anthem, but unfortunately for them the pomposity gets in the way of the music and they all fall down. So sad.

So that leaves The Weakend! Will they win this battle? Their song is called “The Sudden Loss of Innocence.” Let’s tune in and cross our fingers…

Nothing. Absolutely nothing redeeming here. Is this the state of unknown rock these days? Of course it isn’t, and thank God for that. If it was up to the people at Ernie Ball, we’d all be in a lot of trouble. Perhaps the person or people who hand-picked these groups was/were deaf. That is the only possible explanation for the absolutely boring experience listening to this CD is. If any of these bands make a huge mark somewhere/anywhere, we can all be surprised. In the meantime, let’s just forget about all these groups and their lame songs – it’ll be easy to do, trust me – and wait for next year’s big battle. Or not.

~Jason Thompson