The Waffle Stompers - Black on Black
Record Label: Unsigned
Release Date: July 8, 2008
Seven guys walk into a rehearsal room. One guy has a guitar he likes to shred on. The other guy has a microphone and a lighthearted personality, but an ethical stance on being a good dude. The rest have horns and like to break out the brass over some ska-like notes. Look up Waffle Stompers, and you're likely to find two definitions: take the less-disgusting, more shoe-oriented ska reference and you'll see that these Jersey animals are likely to bring the rock, a bit of ska and a dose of energy condensed like soup into six tracks on their third EP, Black on Black.
Rock with horns is always a tricky sub-genre to nail, because it usually covers the same basic formula: lead singer has some snotty vocals, lots of instruments blend together for a big jumbled sound and the songs are either humorous or motivational (in the sense that they speak of band unity or fighting for what you believe is right). It's like a big party on wax, and the Waffle Stompers are certainly not paving new ground -- but they know that, and even offer up this intimidating lyric: "The wolves and critics, both old and relentless, are tearing through all empathy to derail the writers and the artists from knowing what it means to be free." Boy, now I have to give them a good review or I'll feel guilty!
In all actuality though, the Waffle Stompers bring a solid dosage of amplified amusement to their metal-laced horn-driven rock record. The band doesn't seem to be trying to act like anyone but themselves, and sincerity goes a long way in this business. The aforementioned track which the lyric is from, "Why We Survived," is a detailed number that chronicles the band's perspective on what playing music is all about. "The Genius Behind Being a Fool" is the EP's most woefully honest cut, being an ironic track about not knowing shit when in fact, you already know plenty to tell someone there's more to find out (does that even make sense?). "Sex Appeal" might be the best choice for Official Anti-Scene Theme Song, with lyrics like "Tell me how you take yourself seriously when you hit your prime at seventeen." For a shallow culture devoted to looking your best, this is the kind of stuff you wish My Chemical Romance were churning out to their superficial Hot Topic fans.
The production could use a cleanup and there are times when lyrical intentions seem rather unfocused ("Big"), but over time, tinkering with style development and growing up will indeed bring these necessary changes to the light. After six tracks, you really aren't sure how many you have actually listened to without going back to the album booklet. Giving every instrument a place of its own could actually assist the band into adapting some much needed variety when a full-length comes into play.
All in all, looking for originality in a ska-based rock band these days is like looking for an un-pierced appendage on Trace Cyrus' face. What is important though is that the music comes from the heart, it provides a spark to get you up and refuses to cater to an audience who is more concerned with their fashionable headbands and the angle of their camera phone.
Now that my ego is safe from that tormented lyric, I can confidently fall asleep in a pool of cash -- I mean, Glamour Kills clothing! I mean... uhh...