The Living End: Roll On

Dainon Moody

The Living End

Roll On

Label: Reprise
US Release Date: 2001-03-27

Critics love to call an album they're reviewing "good driving music". Stuff that sounds best in a convertible with the top down, the wind in one's hair, never sounding quite right except when those on the sidewalks look to be at a standstill and the open road beckons.

Whether or not they're doing their share of critiquing while planted in the bucket seat of their Pinto is an aspect that's usually not discussed.

That aside, Roll On, The Living End's newest effort, goes best while driving like an absolute madman (or mad woman, as the case may be). If you can muster it up, the speed of light seems appropriate. Otherwise, just make sure to take tight turns that make the tires squeak, keep the windows down, and turn the CD player up as loud as it'll go without blowing the speakers.

This is the way the End's Chris Cheney, Scott Owen, and Travis Demsey want you to hear their music.

Starting with the frenetic three minutes and some seconds of "Roll On" -- an anthem destined to shake the trio of its rockabilly notions forever -- and barreling full throttle into "Pictures in a Mirror" without so much as an opportunity to catch its breath, The Living End stands to surpass the mainstream popularity of both The Offspring and Blink 182, two bands it's toured with already, ironically enough.

And, instead of being compared to the likes of those lesser talents, these Australia natives lay siege on a territory not successfully trod upon since the hey day of Mick Jones and Joe Strummer. While it sees fit to rock its own way, the End likes its punk a bit smarter than the latest Green Day incarnation. Which means, essentially, while there are the songs about getting liquored up to the point of oblivion ("Carry Me Home") and a relative who can't quite locate the facilities soon enough ("Uncle Harry"), the band intersperses those with socially-aware takes on last year's East Timor invasion ("Revolution Regained") and Australia's ongoing immigration debate ("Don't Shut the Gate"), for example.

While it's asking a bit much of American teenagers used to catchy choruses about fly white guys or being able to remember your age, kudos go to the End for raising the bar where and when it needed to be.

It also sounds as if The Living End has benefited from its share of Van Halen exposure, with an opening guitar riff in "Staring at the Light" to cause even Mr. Roth's own ears to perk up and make him want to jump off something.

Still, it seems The Living End has broken a lot of molds with Roll On. It's blazing its own path in the musical world and a fast, furious one it is. That you should listen to driving.

Just take this critic's advice and steer completely away from the annoyance anxious ticket-giving policemen are.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.