The Best of the Worst - Grand Slam
Record Label: Community Records
Release Date: April 18th, 2012
If it's music, it's probably been done before. Don't try to dispute it, because everyone should know it's true. If you hear something you think is really cool and unique, it would probably take you no longer than five minutes to search it on Google and find something just like it. If you're a band, all that you can do to stand out today is to revolutionize a genre or pioneer a new one. New Jersey's The Best of The Worst has attempted to make their mark using the latter strategy. They have tried to merge two sounds that would normally never even be thought of together, ska punk and hardcore. Basically, a few clean ska sections, a lot of high energy punk sections, some heavy breakdowns and some combinations of the three. Sure, it may not sound all that unusual, but the way they go about combining those sounds is unlike anything I've ever heard before. So I decided to do some research on bands with a similar sound. The closest thing I could find was some mix of ska and hardcore punk called skacore, and it sounds nothing like the sound The Best of the Worst has created.
The best thing about this band is the fact that they don't use this unique sound as a crutch. They still try hard to make the songwriting shine, and it really shows. The best part of these three songs, however, is the way the dynamics can change drastically at any given moment while the song still retains stability. In the opener "Speechless," a familiar sounding hardcore breakdown (complete with brass section) is followed immediately by a light and upbeat ska section with clean, palm-muted guitars and a dancey drum beat, and this transition is absolutely seamless. The hardcore edge of "Speechless" soon shifts to a ska-focused "PaperWeight," where a crunchy guitar riff is met with light drums and eventually a catchy section from the horns. The song picks up with a very heavy bridge, then makes the smooth transition right back to the lighter mood created in the beginning. Lastly, you get "Jonestown, 1978," which has more of a focus on punk. It kicks off right away with a fast and pounding drum beat and the most catchy and efficient use of the brass section throughout the EP. It also features the strongest part of the EP when the ending comes around and the song starts to slow down and get heavier, then features an even heavier and more broken down section with a powerful lead riff and aggressive screams to close it out with a strong punch.
I could probably go on forever about the songwriting; between the creative blend of genres, the song structures, and the well written individual parts, it's easily the strongest aspect of this EP. However, I'm going to move on to flaws, although the list is very small. The main problem is the fact that the clean vocals are a bit strained. It seems that a rough delivery is given to both the screams and the clean vocals, but it only works for the screaming; the clean vocals can often be a little shaky in pitch. The lyrics can also be a little weak, primarily in "PaperWeight," full of cliches about the mindset of wanting to be a musician because of the lack of appeal of a typical job.
Overlooking the few shortcomings, Grand Slam ends up being a strong statement of who The Best and the Worst truly are. The band has defined themselves and proven that they can really stand on their own in a music world full of endless competition between bands that sound alike.