Acoustic: Volume Two is a collection of acoustic cover songs done by Tony Sly and Joey Cape. Both front-men chose songs from their most popular bands’ discographies, and took time to stretch their limited track count out amongst No Use For A Name and Lagwagon’s multiple albums. The only previously un-released songs contributed by this album are ‘Broken Record’ and ‘Liver Let Die,’ which, unsurprisingly, seem to play the smoothest in acoustic format (this is the format I’m assuming they were designed for). These are also the only songs to put the most reliance on Joey and Tony’s voices, as these two use only acoustic guitar and vocals (with a little back-up vocals and percussion section). Tony’s five and Joey’s four revamps seem unnerving at first glance, but after comparisons to the originals, gain flying colors with the addition of new instruments and the removal of lead guitars and monotonous drums rhythms. Piano and accordion fillers are switched in on Side T, while keys and strings are used throughout Side J.
Just like on their last duet album, Acoustic: Volume Two carries a prevailing melancholy tone when set next to the original tracks (apart from the inclusion of the always uplifting tambourine). Elitist music critic friends are reviewed in ‘Know it All,’ a song that originally emanated spiteful resent, but looks at the topic with a vastly different outlook when the background music is changed. This can be said for all of the songs, except ‘Liver Let Die’ and ‘Broken Record.’ The lack of typical Fat Wreck punk style leads to an emotional recreation of Lagwagon and No Use For A Name songs on this album. This isn’t to say that these bands don’t have anything going for them, but it is true that most of their songs share the same sound, when the lyrical directions are vastly differing with each track. I think that’s what Tony and Joey were looking to prove; the fact that their song writing has a lot more to it than what most people probably get out of a couple sparse listens to Lagwagon and No Use For A Name.
The two new songs on this album had me confused at first. ‘Broken Record’ would have been more fitting for the late Tony Sly, and actually forced me to look up which classic character sadly left the punk community not so long ago. ‘Broken Record’ looks into the strange lifestyle that professional punks live every day. Everyone who doesn’t have the traditional nine-to-five has to deal with their favorite bar being filled with the weekend warriors every two out of seven days that begin with ‘s’. It’s reminiscent of the theme for NoFX’s ‘Thank God It’s Monday,’ but with less in your face style and more resentful loathing.
‘Liver Let Die’ was unfortunately Tony Sly’s last recording, and, after some lyrical understanding, fits better with the dismal reality than ‘Broken Record’. For such an influential leader of this music community we find ourselves in to let out his last documented voice to end with the words “one more song” is more than anyone who built their life around music could ask for. “This could be tonight’s one more song, this shot we take before the bell, we raise our glass to songs that we know so well” are the last three-quarters of the chorus, and are words that should let Tony rest comfortably (I hate to put words in Tony’s mouth here, but I’m only going off what I could hope to leave when I the show ends).
For fans of Lagawagon and/or No Use For A Name, as you probably already learned from the first Cape and Sly acoustic split, the songs on Acoustic: Volume Two aren’t going to guarantee the same amount of sing-along punk cadences. If you’re looking for a sense of nostalgic memories and the last recordings by Mr. Sly, then I highly recommend picking this one up. If you’re one of those that consider punk by the book to be the only kind of punk, rather than listening to music to experience something new stylistically, don’t pick up this album.
Follow: @JoeyCape @Fat_Wreck