The Miasmics
Let's Go Get 'Em!
by Dustin Kreidler

Every ska band on earth has that one song, that one bit of schtick that ONLY goes over well live. The Miasmics have chosen to make that moment that closing hidden track on their album. 'The Funky Dance' is the kind of song that isn't too bad at the end of a gig, when you're hot, sweaty, you've been bumping up against good looking girls (or boys) all night, you might have a wee bit too much lager in you (or coke, it doesn't really matter). However, as the end of an album, it completely fails. But hey, at least they didn't lead off with it!

The rest of the album manages to pull off a very impressive feat: While mixing and matching disparate influences, pulling from metal, jam, ska, funk, etc., the Miasmics managed to create a somewhat bland pastiche of music in general. While blending styles is hardly the definition of 'creating something new,' they are further buggered by the fact that this is all ground Skankin' Pickle and others trailblazed years ago.

Some of the problem can most likely be attributed to the mix of the album. With really good mixes, there is often an inherent ability to 'see' where each musician, or sound, is in the mix. When its really well done, you can get the effect of being in a room, surrounded by musicians. Very sexy when its well done. 'Let's Go Get 'Em' was mixed so that it sounds like the horns are right in front of you, the vocalist is standing over in the doorway, and the rhythm section is about 10 feet down the hall. The drums have no low-mid range, the bass has no high end, and the mix is just plainly uneven.

'Kids Today' is hopefully a Skankin' Pickle cover, except for the fact that Linda Knackstedt isn't on it. There are the same atonal, amelodic sung-rapped vocals, just without the extra intensity that Mike Parks put into his vocals with SP. 'Soul Coal' breaks into a choir-like chorus that utterly destroys any flow the song may have built up. 'Slice" features mall metal that would make Papa Roach proud, 'Mediocre Lifestyle' features vocals that sound like the scratch track, in volume and pitch.

The real highlight of this set is the track "It's About Time," though the remix Rob 'Bucket Hingley did for the Megalith Records comp 'Still Standing' brings out many aspects of the music lacking in the album version. All of which begs the question, is it just lacklustre mixes that are killing an otherwise solid album? Its honestly hard to tell. I have a penchant for early Pink Floyd bootlegs with audio so ratty its sometimes hard to tell what song is being played, so I'm fairly certain I'm not getting too wrapped up in sonics.

Perhaps the band failed to capture their considerable live energy on album. But that wouldn't explain why Bucket's remix helps it so much. After repeated A-Bing of the two mixes, the main differences appear to be the rhythm section and vocals. Remember the visual of where people 'sounded' in relation to the listener? On the Bucket remix, the rhythm section is in the room, the horns are backed off a bit, and the vocals sound freaking great. Maybe the band just needed some more time in the studio to capture what they were going for. All we can do is wait for the next album and see what they did and didn't learn from this venture.

All told, while the songwriting may still need some work, and while the mixing could use some tweaking for the future, this is a very solid band. Their live shows are high energy, and they certainly have a future. They just need to focus in on it a bit.

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