Break out the checkered suspenders and dust off those old history books -- you're gonna need 'em both. Ready or not, New Jersey's Catch 22 has arrived with their academic soiree, Permanent Revolution. It's a concept album that ambitiously follows the life of Leon Trotsky, Bolshevik revolutionary and father of Marxist theory. (Who knew these ska-punks were also scholars?) After the band was forced to find new singers following both Keasbey Nights and Alone in a Crowd, Permanent Revolution is the second proper effort with saxophonist Ryan Eldred and trumpeter Kevin Gunther trading off on vocals. And coming off the lukewarm and mixed response to Dinosaur Sounds, this album should find fans more pleasantly greeted than the unsteady rock that dominated that 2003 record. Even with a lyrical theme that finds the band stretching itself a bit thin with straightforward insight ("Stay true to principle and give your all for all!"), the music stands firm. And this is a good thing, since really, while a Russian history lesson is a noble task, its still seems a little awkward revved up to the tune of the third wave. The soundtrack to the Bolshevik Revolution this is not. But it is enjoyable music. When certain parts aren't sounding like they're coming straight from a musical's narrative (as in the opening track, but that may or may not be on purpose), the record is full of upbeat ska-punk numbers flowing with driving chords, crisp riffing, and triumphant brass. The band also draws on reggae and hardcore punk blasts to sprinkle on their ska for taste, and songs like "The Spark (1902)" and "Bad Party (1927)" benefit because of this. "Alma Ata (1928)" is a sleeper ready for the ranks of office elevators, but thankfully, the subsequent energy of "The Purge (1936)" kicks things back up near the album's end. It's too bad, though, that "Epilogue" sounds so disturbingly like Elton John's "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" that the album fades out unremarkably instead of exiting in a triumphant fanfare of rebellion. But no matter, since while Trotsky's career ultimately gets the axe (literally), Permanent Revolution is encouraging for Catch 22. Just when some fans were ready to toss them aside, they prove there's still some life left in those old horns after all.
Performance CreditsCatch 22 Primary Artist
Steve Evetts Chimes
Ian McKenzie Trombone,Keyboards,Vocals,Vibes
Ryan Eldred Guitar,Saxophone,Vocals
Kevin Gunther Trumpet,Vocals
Chris Greer Drums
Pat Kays Bass,Chimes,Vocals
Patrick Calpin Guitar
Technical CreditsAlan Douches Engineer
Steve Evetts Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Catch 22 Composer
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Permanent Revolution based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
I was shocked - and not in a good way - when I listened to this album for the first time. Catch22, a band known for its fast-paced, complex, creative music has churned out an album that sounds like a hybrid of pop-punk and reggae, with run-of-the-mill vocals and second-rate lyrics. Were the typical "rebel" theme of Marxism not enough to make your eyes roll, the lyrics should have. I felt like I was looking at a photo-copy of ever neo-revolutionary manifesto ever churned out by an angsty teenager thinking he could change the world by protesting Bush and smoking weed. I wouldn't have minded the extremely lousy lyrics if the music was anything special, but it simply wasn't. The crisp, vibrant, well-tuned brass of their past albums has been reduced to the weak death-rattle of Ska's last gasping breath. The instruments were so muffled and discordant that I would suggest the musicians go back to highschool and learn how to play in unison. What's more, the overpowering drums and vocals due to poor mixing made what little bit of horn music the album posessed fade into the background where it could barely be heard. The only redeeming part of this album was the introduction of vibes, chimes, and bells to the otherwise lacking arsenal of instruments. As a mallet percussionist, I was elated to see my instruments represented. Now if only the REST of the album was good... Overall, I give this album 2/5 stars. I should have given it less, but I try to remind myself that for someone who likes cookie-cutter ska and reggae, this album may not be any worse than what is allready on the shelves and radio. For me, however, this album was the last shovel-load of dirt on Catch22's grave I'll never waste the money on their albums again.