Alkaline Trio - Damnesia
After 15 years in the punk rock trade, Alkaline Trio pull on their slippers, lean back in their chairs and mark the anniversary by revisiting some of their best-loved material in a semi-acoustic fashion. Eschewing the more slapstick aspects of their contemporaries (I'm looking at you Green Day), songwriters Matt Skiba and Matt Andriano generally haunt the lyrical backstreets and alleyways, so taking the 'sitting on the back porch' approach is not so strange, their tales of broken hearts, wasted opportunity and booze sodden nights being standard acoustic fare. This worldview may have tempered their commercial success along the way - inspiring more tattoos as recompence - but they remain the go-to band for those who weary of the 'Stacey's Mom' school of pop punk. Where Damnesia falls down is where projects like these often do: the acoustic versions are simply lesser, pared down versions of the originals. Still, such is the strength of some of the material ('You've Got So Far To Go', 'Mercy Me') these issues are soon forgotten as you get swept along in the three o'clock in the morning vibe and straight-to-the-heart melodies. Two solid new songs and a Violet Femmes cover fill out the package, but the likes of Maybe I'll Catch Fire and From Here To Infirmary remain the best introduction for the curious.