ALBUM REVIEW: Cerebral Ballzy “Jaded & Faded”

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Cerebral Ballzy

Cerebral Ballzy

Let’s get fucked tonight, cuz it’s pretty in the city. Let’s just dance tonight, cuz it’s pretty in the city. Let it go tonight, cuz it’s pretty in the city. One of these days we’ll take the town, but for now we’ll just buy a 40 oz

Cerebral Ballzy entered the music scene in 2011 when they released their self titled album. One thing was pretty clear: the band’s members, Honor Titus (lead vocals), Melvin “Mel” Honore (bass), Mason (guitar), Jason Bannon (guitar) and Tom Kogut (drums) are some hedonistic dudes. They like to drink themselves silly, drug themselves dumb, skate, have sex, and other fun things, all in the overwhelming and chaotic environment of NYC. They documented their various hijinks with heavy basslines, explosive drumming, inaudible singing and guitar riffs that whiz by at a dizzying speed. Their self-titled debut became a hit within the local punk circle, which landed them a spot on Julian Casablancas’ Cult Records. The band enlisted the help of Dave Sitek (TV On The Radio) to produce their sophomore album, Jaded & Faded.

It seems that the members of Cerebral Ballzy have matured both creatively and personally since we’ve last heard them. They still like to get drunk, but maybe not so much that they puke on the subway turnstiles they’re too broke to go through. They still like to have sex, but maybe with the same girl more than once (Woah I’ll never ever forget her, cuz she’s so rad. Got her name tatted right down to the letter, cuz she’s so bad. City slows when we’re together, cuz what we have).  Though they were in high school when they hit the scene and in no position to look at their band as anything more than fucking around, they’re now college freshman. With “reality” on the horizon, it’s clear they’ve decided to capitalize on the professional connections they accidentally made and try to extend the life of the project, even if it means taking a band with a goofy name semi-seriously.

Cerebral Ballzy’s sound has also grown adjacent to their song themes. On Cerebral Ballzy, the guys knew only one tempo: fucking fast. On Jaded & Faded, the gang experiment with tempo.  Most of the tracks on Jaded & Faded include some tempo changes. The intro to “Another Day,” for instance, slows things way down, giving it a hungover feel. After the melody has been established, the guitar accelerates and the music bursts into chaos around the lone guitar riff. The considerable restraint that Cerebral Ballzy shows on the track appears again and again on the new record, making the pockets of combustion that much more intense. On “Parade Of Idiots,” Kogut demonstrates his drumming capabilities by actually holding back on the introduction before erupting at unfathomable speeds throughout the song.

In a way, Jaded & Faded is something of a landmark for band, as they also seem to have developed an ability to work together and listen to each other more than ever before. This is most audible through the interaction of Bannon’s and Mason’s guitar parts on “Fake I.D.” One guitar plays a fuzzy and distorted chordant section while the other picks away at a faster, flashier melody. This interaction creates a fuller, richer sound than they might have gotten if both instruments were simply going full throttle for the entire song. Wild abandon takes a lot of stamina; these boys are now smartly banking on compositional elements to highlight the their ability to shred and let loose, a move that could even earn them a little respect.

Titus, too, gets in on the act, experimenting with new vocal styles, usually with a surprising level of enunciation. From a guttural growling on “Speed Wobbles” to a more melodic “Better in Leather” and an almost-rapped “Fast Food,” Titus finds many ways to stretch the signature bratty snarl that dominated the debut. As much as his aggressive sneer was a highlight on early singles, the explorations on Jaded & Faded give unique personalities to each track, lending them new dimensions. The raw energy of the band’s last record made up for the fact that at times, it could feel flat, but with Jaded & Faded, fans now have the best of both worlds.

Cerebral Ballzy introduced the punk scene to its kick ass, high energy sound on its debut album. Jaded & Faded digs just a little bit deeper, representing a more matured, cognizant stride towards the sound that they have already begun to establish. If the title of the record is telling, they’ve done that all under the guise of feeling tired and bored of all the excess, but I’m willing to bet they’re cementing a game plan that will only extend the life of the party. Jaded & Faded is out June 17th.

 

 

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