Album Review: Tony Sly – 12 Song Program

April 1, 2010
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Tony Sly - 12 Song ProgramTitle: 12 Song Program
Artist: Tony Sly
Label: Fat Wreck Chords
Released: 16 February 2010
In one word: Pleasant

The debut solo offering from No Use For A Name vocalist Tony Sly is pretty much what would expected from him following 20+ years of penning catchy, often heartfelt pop-punk tunes. Featuring mainly Sly and an acoustic guitar, this album sounds very much like a No Use For A Name record unplugged, which is a good thing considering the band often sounds like it is merely ‘punking up’ some well-written folk tunes.

Opening track “Capo, 4th Fret” tells the story of Sly becoming burnt out with music and songwriting, and is a solid choice to open this highly personal record. From here Sly’s very listenable vocals take centre stage in “Via Munich” which is a more upbeat affair, with a rhythm reminiscent of the acoustic take of NOFX’s “The Man I Killed” – which brings us to the main downfall of this record; a lot of the melodies and rhythms seem very familiar, either from earlier No Use… tracks or from elsewhere in the folk-punk universe. Track 4, “Already Won”, for example, comes dangerously close to stepping on the toes of the Dropkick Murphys’ “Boys On the Docks”. Similarly, the beginning of “Expired” sounds eerily similar to Rise Against’s “Hero of War”. However, this needn’t hinder one’s enjoyment of this album as there is enough variety to let these distractions pass, and each of the aforementioned tracks tend to redeem themselves upon multiple listens.

A standout track of this album is “Keira”, written for Sly’s daughter, and is remarkably sweet and touching. “Love, Sweet Love” offers a more exotic, gypsy-like sound with an interesting mix of keys and vocal melody and provides for a break to the familiar sound of Sly and his guitar. Track 10, “Amends” features the guest vocals of Lagwagon’s Joey Cape, and is sure to be a feature in the pair’s current co-headlining tour of Europe and Australia.

No Use For A Name have never tried to be anything more than a fun, sweet pop-punk band, and similarly this album is not going to change the face of music in any large way. It is, however, a great listen for any fan of Sly’s previous work and a pleasant accompaniment for a long drive or a chilled out afternoon.

© Steve Pass, Music Vice

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