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1029478.jpgUnwritten Law
Live and Lawless CD/DVD
Suburban Noize

Growing up and growing old in the punk scenes of the ‘90s and ‘00s, I never got into Unwritten Law. That could be a good, bad or irrelevant thing, depending on who you ask. I get the general impression that, at least for the first half of their existence, Unwritten Law was, to some extent, written off.

I don’t personally know anyone who listens to them. I’ve seen them several times and never left feeling like I had seen anything special. The band has, however, paid their dues in the punk scene for nearly two decades now. They started out the respectable way – DIY and on indie labels. They’ve stayed fairly true to their sound over the eighteen years they’ve been together, evolving as much as you would expect of a band in that time. All of those details certainly earn my respect.

Unfortunately, this disc leaves me feeling much the same way their live performances have in the past…shrugging my shoulders, asking myself “so what’s the big deal?” I gather that the band has a decent following. They had two big hits in recent years with “Save Me” and “Seein’ Red.” If all the above is accurate, and they have songs hitting numbers one and five on Billboard’s Hot Modern Rock Tracks, why the hell don’t they do anything for me?

I don’t really have an answer for that. They just don’t. They bore me. I think these guys should break up. Clearly, I’m just talking out of my ass because they are successful. Granted, “Save Me” is pretty much the only song anyone appears to know the words to on this live disc, but they inarguably have fan favorites like “Cailin” and “Up All Night.” Fan favorites tend to require fans.

Unwritten Law is a hard-working band who has earned their success. They have great backing vocals and harmonizing, and some of these songs are good. For me, this is just incredibly dull. I don’t know what else to say. My ears give this a 6, but the band gets an extra point for having done everything right in its career (I say that in all sincerity), and because bassist Pat Kim sings into his mic like Lemmy from Motorhead. If you are a fan of the band, I’m fairly certain you will dig this disc. Also, if you fall into that bewildering class of music fan, the Unwritten Law fan, then please, explain to me what I am missing here…

P.S. This album comes with a bonus live DVD of the show. The footage is very well put together, of high quality and quite nice. If only Scott Russo would stop with those idiotic stage mannerisms already.

-Luke Toney