For more than 20 years, No Use For A Name has been a prominent band in the So-Cal pop punk scene, and frontman Tony Sly has been a large part of it. Over the years, the band has been responsible for a large chunk of memorable pop punk anthems like “Chasing Rainbows” and “On the Outside,” but at the same time, there was a side of Tony Sly’s songwriting that NUFAN fans were not privy to – until now.
For Sly’s solo debut, 12 Song Program, he has unplugged his guitar, going acoustic to bring out this collection of songs he’s written over the years that, for various reasons, didn’t fit the style of NUFAN’s standard fare.
Stripped bare, Sly’s songwriting shows a depth and style that reaches earlier than punk to his earliest influences, which began with a copy of the Beatles’ Rubber Soul, and extended through classic songwriters like Bob Dylan and David Bowie.
The Beatles influence runs rampant throughout 12 Song Program, but becomes especially evident in the dreamy “Love, Sick Love,” a song where Sly’s vocals are accompanied and lifted by backup from Karina Denike of the Dance Hall Crashers (who provides vocal support on several other tracks as well), and the whole song is an amazingly ambiguous look at a relationship that may or may not be all that healthy (Listen/Download).
These ambiguously unhealthy relationships appear throughout 12 Song, like on “Toaster in the Bathtub,” a Ziggy Stardust meets The Pogues-styled barroom anthem (Listen/Download). With comparisons like “I’m a toaster in the bathtub, you’re a beacon in the night,” Sly’s depth as a lyricist shines bright as it illuminates the darkest corners of the bar.
Although 12 Song Program is Tony Sly’s solo debut, by no means is he doing this alone. Along with Karina Denike’s vocal support on several tracks, Joey Cape (Lagwagon)shows up on the Dylan-inspired “Amends” (Listen/Download). Instrumental duties are also shared with Darius Koski (Swingin’ Utters) on accordion and violin on a few tracks, and Fat Mike even appears, playing bass the sobering mature song that is “Already Won” (Listen/Download).
Another mature sentimental moment, one that is perhaps the album's strongest track, happens with “Keira,” a song Sly penned for his daughter. Sly sings from the heart, a heart that is singing through 20 years as a punk musician, and when he sings a lullaby to his daughter, the feelings ring true, full of father’s love, stripped of pretense and emotionally pure (Listen/Download).
It’s a new way to look at a familiar face in punk rock, and Sly is brave for letting us get a glimpse at it. His musical homage to musicians like the Beatles and Dylan may alienate some NUFAN devotees, but odds are it will only be the youngest and most immature. 12 Song Program will hit home with fans who’ve been along for the ride over the years, fans who recognize good songwriting that relates experience when they hear it, and know that sometimes popped-up punk rock isn’t the best way to express it.
Release Date: February 16, 2010
Disclosure: A review copy of this release was provided by the publicist. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.