Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blast from the Past: Last Word Spoken

Title:  Last Word Spoken (Amazon, Last.fm)
Artist:  One Man Army (Last.fm, MySpace, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

Last Word Spoken, One Man Army’s sophomore album, was a record that I didn’t appreciate until many years after it was released.  At the time of its release in 2000, I was still deeply into oi/street punk and OMA’s debut record, Dead End Stories, was one of my favorites.  So when the band released its follow up, a record that showed great growth, I wasn’t ready for it.  I honestly wanted Dead End Stories part 2 and Last Word Spoken is certainly not that. 

The record opens with the blistering “The Old Songs,” a song that could easily fit in with the bands first record, but not as a street punk number, more in the way that Screeching Weasel’s “The Science of Myth” sounds great next to Cock Sparrer’s “Where Are They Now.”  But the vibe of the song, and the entire record, is completely different than Dead End Stories.  This is a pop punk record, not a street punk record.  OMA had evolved.  The band was never really comfortable with the oi/street punk label (they said so much to me when I interviewed them at Music Dimensions after a show in 1999) and in some ways I think this album was their attempt to shake that label.  In some ways that probably hurt the band.  It seems to me that once a band gets hit with the oi/street punk label it tends to stick, no matter how hard a band tries to shake it, and because of that inaccurate label, many potential fans refuse to check out said band.  On the flipside, many oi/street punk fans will turn on a band that changes their sound.  It’s a no-win situation for a band to be in and that’s a shame. 

What’s not a shame is how truly great Last Word Spoken is, even if it took me years to realize it.  This record showcased the growing songwriting prowess of Jack Dalrymple (speaking of Jack, I can’t wait to hear how he blends in on the new Swingin’ Utters album); just listen to the single from Last Word Spoken, “Another Night” and you’ll see what I mean.  The entire album is filled with hooks and songs that are personal and soulful while being fun and poppy all at the same time. 

One Man Army followed Last Word Spoken up with the amazing Rumors & Headlines and released a split CD with Alkaline Trio, BYO Split Series, Vol. 5, prior to breaking up in 2005.  This band was truly getting better with each release and it wasn’t until after the split with Alkaline Trio that I realized it (I had stopped actively following OMA after LWS was released in 2000).  Since then I have tracked down all three of their albums (not an easy feat considering that Dead End Stories and Last Word Spoken are way out of print) and gotten their live DVD The Show Must Go Off.  I’ve also followed Jack Dalrymple’s career in Dead To Me and Re-Volts and have been more and more impressed with the man with each release. 

Great for fans of Dead To Me, The Bouncing Souls, Swingin’ Utters, The Methadones, and Teenage Bottlerocket. 

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