Saturday, March 25, 2017

Stiffler's Mom - "The Demo" EP Review!!

Now is a good time to post our 93rd monthly CD review at The Sault Metal Scene, and with no new hard rock or punk releases to look at this month, we're dipping into the archives for a look at the only EP from veteran local hard/party rock trio Stiffler's Mom! As they played live just this past weekend, they're a perfect band to tie in a review for, so what should you know about their CD? Entitled simply "The Demo", this was independently released back in 2004, though surviving online details on it's original release are minimal at best. Stiffler's Mom's current and classic lineup is present on "The Demo", including singer/drummer Greg Simpson, guitarist Michael Davies, and bassist Jon Ferguson. This album is long since out of print now, and I doubt that Stiffler's Mom sell stock of it at modern concerts, but fan Alex Moore did upload the whole EP to YouTube last year, and song titles below are linked to his uploads of them. With four songs running for a robust 19 minutes, let's begin our review of the elusive Stiffler's Mom demo!

The opening song is actually a cover, namely their version of Gordon Lightfoot's classic ballad "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald". Aside from extra guitar flourish from Mike & some vocal harmonizing, this is a fairly faithful rendition of the original song for the first 2 and a half minutes, but after some ocean effects, the full band kicks into usual Stiffler's Mom gear with a heavier and faster pace. Musically speaking, I should prefer this, but it really takes away from the somber tone of the disaster, before the 6 minute track ends on a melancholy note. To me, the fast heavy stretch is really out of place, and it should have started the song, then became gradually more melancholy. Next is the album's shortest song "Yesterday", an altogether more fun and successful performance that shows Stiffler's Mom at their fun and lively best! Greg's melodic singing suits the tone, and his drumming also matches well, though Mike's guitar solo doesn't show his true abilities, and the song can be a little repetitive. Strong recovery overall though!

"Pearl's Necklace" comes next, and ignoring the obvious innuendo of the title, the song is a solid track, and at times, the vocals remind me of the verses on Inner City Surfers originals, so make of that what you will! The song has a catchy drum beat, Jon shines on bass, and Mike's guitar solo is way better and more diverse, adding up to the EP's most entertaining song yet, though I will say that the pre-solo break and it's near ska-sounding ambiance is too jarring of a shift, and the song ends way too abruptly. Still, it's my highlight so far on "The Demo"! This release ends with "Enjoy The Show", a song carried over from Stiffler's Mom's predecessor band Sin Stereo (their version linked here), and the new version doesn't alter much from Sin Stereo's, aside from the chorus, with the backing vocals sorely missed in this version's melody. You could argue that this is both bands' signature original, and it's hard to argue, especially with another solid guitar solo and catchy verses, but it's not quiet at it's predecessor's musical level.

So, how do I sum up Stiffler's Mom's 13 year old demo? Overall, it's a fun and high energy release that showcases the guys' skill as original songwriters, and might be of special note to fans who aren't aware of their original music background! Greg Simpson's melodic singing and solid drumming were a nice compliment, Michael Davies laid down some solid guitar solos, and Jon Ferguson's bass work was ever present, and things came together at their peak on "Pearl's Necklace", but there were points to address. I preferred the choruses of the Sin Stereo version of "Enjoy the Show" to the Stiffler's Mom remake, the guitar solo on "Yesterday" paled compared to the later ones, and most jarring of all, the heavy & fast section of the Gordon Lightfoot cover was not well suited to where it was in the song, and if you have to have it, I'd have started the song with it, before the disasters began. Overall though, this was a nice studio debut for Stiffler's Mom, and it would be interesting to see them release a second CD (perhaps with "Sweet Juanita"?)

Give Stiffler's Mom's demo EP a listen at the above links, and I hope you guys liked this month's CD review! As for our April CD review, I am not 100% sure what we are reviewing next month, but here's what I can tell you. A new CD release will take precedent, and while both The Apocalypse Afterparty and Skeyes of Seven have complete EPs in the can, neither have seen a paid public release yet. If one comes out by late April, they'd be next, but check out our next "Where Are The New Albums?" post for more clues! However, if a Telephone & Address album comes out soon, it will not be next month's review topic, as we only just reviewed their latest album in December. Given bands playing live next month, our next review choice could easily be an album from A Fall From Innocence (tied in with A Dire Setback's Larry Babic) or Haggith (tied in with Eclipse members), but time will tell if either is up next.

In any event, look for our next CD review at some point in April, and stay tuned for more news and features next week! Thanks everyone!

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