We reviewed 10-Feet's newest album "Life is Sweet" in episode 32 to a very mediocre concensus. I liked it, but didn't think it was anything special, Zer0 felt pretty much the same way and Jaylee went on record saying he has no interest in hearing more from them.
I decided to revisit reviewing this album after having it on heavy rotation in my list of new songs and I feel it deserves more than we gave it. I was surprised to find out that they've been around since 2001 (more noteably since 2004) and even did a collaboration album with the likes of KJ from Dragon Ash as well as Minmi. A good write-up of their background can be found here at JaME World.
So the question I seek to answer is, "Did Gaijin Kanpai give this album the review it deserves"? Let's dig in...
In our review on the show, I likened this album to having a Back-On and Sublime vibe to it. I still stick by that, but not for every song and I've found some more relatable influences. Though Back-On is the best line to draw to 10-Feet, I found a lot of nods to Offspring (when they were popular). Songs like "Chinese Boy" and "under the umber shine" come to mind as good examples. The melodic punk with ska flavors in those songs transport me back to the 90's when I listened to songs like "The Kids Aren't Alright". The Sublime references are apparent in songs like "Strike!!!" and "under the umber shine" as well. Besides the influences to good bands of the genres they like to mix together, I was really impressed with this album in regards to its track order.
10-Feet is hard to pin to one genre, but they excel at "melodic punk". That being said, the songs that do not fit that mold are inserted quite expertly to give the album the sensation of an enjoyable ride from beginning to end. "What's Up" is a really good song to set the mood and overal tone of 10-Feet's goal for this album. It's a good punk rock song that hits all the right notes for fans. When "Chinese Boy" comes in (my favorite song on the album), we're introduced to the high-pitched synth vocalist, which I found to be a nice touch, and it tops it off with good punk chord progressions and, again, reminds me of a good Offspring song.
Then "Kaze" comes on. This is the first deviation from their intended style of the album and is probably the best composed song to be found on it. It serves as a great way to break up the punk and gives listeners who may not be enjoying that style a taste of what else they can do.
When the break is over, "Super Stomper" gets back to business with very clean, hard-hitting punk. The intro into the verses definitely makes their decision to make this song a single a good choice. "Strike!!!" injects ska into the mix and brings with it the makings of a good homage to Sublime, including the funny lyrics. "1sec" is a little too speed-punk for my tastes, but as far as the flow of the album goes, it does really well at pushing the album to its most hardcore yet and then allowing "F.E.E.T" to step in (get it?) and give the listener an intermission of sorts.
"Joker Stomper," my least favorite track, picks up where "1sec" left off and turns the hardcore up to 11. You'll hear me say, and write, this very often over the tenure of our relationship, but I can't stand screaming in my music. I think vocals should be treated as an instrument, and I don't think you can do that with screaming. I know a lot of people enjoy the type of music they're trying to pull off here, but you can bet your ass I will always skip it. It's a good thing "under the umber shine" seems to realize this as it brings the music back down to a more enjoyably melodic level. I also enjoy my punk when ska shows up to the party ^_^. "Compli-k-tion" continues the trend and gives us a really good mix of speed and melodic punk. The unforgetably-named "Mr Bullshit" makes me think that this would be the kind of song FLOW would release if they tried their hand at punk. The rasta lyrics can seem a little gimmicky, but what makes this song is the really good instrumental and ska breakdown towards the middle of it.
"NaKuShiTaMoNo" is another very well composed song as "Kaze" was and serves as a great message to the listener that the album is almost at its end because of its more mellow tone. If I were to play a song for someone who was not a fan of 10-Feet's type of music, I would play them "NaKuShitTaMoNo" because I think it succeeds very well at appealing cross-genre. Finally, "back to the sunset" continues where "NaKuShiTaMoNo" left off and portrays 10-Feet's sound in a more mellow fashion. Living up to it's title, "back to the sunset" bids a fond farewell to the listener and marks the end of the album.
So, I don't usually like to go track-by-track when reviewing albums (though I am guilty of it quite often), but I felt the track order really shines for this album and deserved explanation. It's hardcore-ness seemed to peak every few songs and then the following song would serve as a quick fall back down to the bottom of the mountain at which the climb would begin again. I now think that this album is a lot better than originally reviewed on the show, but I can see where non-fans of the genre could think the album never really goes anywhere. It's in the details where one finds out that it does, and it does so quite often throughout its entirety.
I still think this album is best served as music to get you pumped to play a sport, or background music when playing a high-action videogame. In that specific regard, it is one of my favorite albums. I hope future albums continue to improve upon the good aspects of these songs and, in turn, produce some tracks I can actually tell people stand out from the crowd!
I live and die by my iTunes ratings and their associated playlists so here's what I ended up giving this album (iTunes ratings are out of 5 stars):
01. What's Up ★★★★
02. Chinese Boy ★★★★
03. Kaze ★★★★
04. Super Stomper ★★★★
05. Strike!!! ★★★★
06. 1sec ★★★★
07. F.E.E.T. ★★★
08. Joker Stomper ★★
09. under the umber shine ★★★★
10. compli-k-tion ★★★★
11. Mr. Bullshit ★★★★
12. NaKuShiTaMoNo ★★★★
13. back to the sunset ★★★★