Album Review: Time Again – “(Naked)”

time-again-nakedEvery summer, festivals like the Van’s Warped Tour come around that are all about coming together with hundreds of hot and sweaty people and doing what you love: jumping up and down to your favorite music or just going crazy in the mosh pits. The album (Naked) by Time Again incites those same feelings but does so in a much more subtle way. It’s all acoustic.

A 4-piece street punk band formed during the summer of 2004 in Los Angeles, (Naked) renders acoustic versions of their most popular songs such as Lines Are Faded, Broken Bodies, and Me and You.

You probably think a punk album could not be done acoustically, but this album shatters the conception that street punk can only be fast and aggressive, demonstrating exceptional musicianship that can only be appreciated live and unplugged. Drawing from blues and folk music for influence, Time Again lend credibility to the idea that punk music began on an acoustic guitar.

While most listeners of Time Again are those of the mohawked, tattooed, studded jacket, and Chuck Taylor-wearing variety, this album will appeal to a larger audience who are into artists like Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, to Bob Dylan and even the Rolling Stones. With catchy melodies and honest lyrics that talk about being broke, homeless and on the streets, and the struggle to get by, vocalist Daniel Dart’s delivery of his nasally and raspy vocals manages to appease old-school fans who still appreciate a good circle pit.

The album, released on Drop-Out Records, is a stark contrast to the band’s previous albums from Hellcat Records and helps give another dimension to the band’s music. When a band is able to make the jump from their distorted guitars, raw vocals, and epic melodic breakdowns and still maintain that intensity on an acoustic album, the musicians grow and the impact of their music can have a much greater effect, across a much larger group of listeners.

The message of the music is not lost on this album and the different styles of each song help the listener relate more to each. For a young punk on the street trying to survive, listening to this album will help them identity with others who have been there before.

The two stand-out tracks on this album are Broken Bodies and Me and You. Musically, Broken Bodies has a folk-vibe to it. Harmonized with “Oo’s and Ah’s” by a female vocalist, Dart’s singing is a complete change from the original version of the song. He talks about a time when he was homeless and hungry and people would write him off and tell him he’d never make it: “Staring up I saw the look in their eyes. Nothing but hate, wore a smile as disguise” shows just how fake people seemed to be. Complete with a feel-good harmonica breakdown, Dart sings about how he made it with broken bodies and broken bones.

Me and You is a song about just getting in a car and driving down to Hollywood with 5 cigarettes, 500 miles, 2 roadmaps, 2 sets of clothes, 2 shoes, 2 guitars, and $20 for food. Not caring what happens, Dart sings “we’re gonna have the time of our lives,” a line that we can all relate to. Enhanced by an electric organ, another sign of the band’s willingness to add another dimension to punk music. Me and You is a song that you can’t help but sing along to at the top your lungs.

(Naked) is, without a doubt, the definitive album in Time Again’s discography. It’s a must-listen. It’s one of those albums that warrants a sit-through if you’re into emotionally driven, melodic street punk. Even if you’re not, this album is still the best that Time Again has put out. The vocals will make you think about the struggles that we all feel and and gives you an appreciation for everything that Dart and Time Again have gone through. This album epitomizes the Southern California street punk scene, a scene that is as multicultural and diverse as the bands that served as inspiration, and it does so with a couple of acoustic guitars.

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