"Call It Whatever You Want"

Original release: Dec. '89, Broken Records
Re-released: Nov. '96, Wretched Records
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The Harvest Rock Syndicate Review

Volume Four, Issue Three
by Dan MacIntosh

The Christian music culture has rarely produced authentic punk rock. When Southern California was breading Social Distortion, TSOL, and X, the church was giving us Altar Boys, UnderCover, and Lifesavors. Any true punk would know the difference between the Real Thing and the poor imitation. It's not my intention to take away from the Christian bands I've alluded to, it's just that the church was nowhere near ready for anything close to the hardcore the world was listening to. As we near the 90's many Christians still may not be ready for punk, but Christian punk is out there. Both the Lead and the Crucified have made inroads into the Christian rock mainstream. Now comes the second release from Nobody Special.

Nobody Special is the vehicle for the creative energy of Pat Taylor. Nobody Special plays the kind of moody, alienated, world-weary punk that the California thrash scene has become known for. Where the British punk scene, which gave us Sex Pistols and the Clash, was outspokenly political about its poverty, Californians had no such poverty to speak of. Their problems were not economic, but were caused by broken families, boredom, and a sense that their communities were apathetic about the problems of the world.

Long after the punk revolution of the late 70's was considered dead, California punk is still going strong. Nobody Special's second album, Call It Whatever You Want takes up where the first disc left off. It's the continuation of Taylor's unique ability to shed light on some of the false value judgments our society continues to make. "Weirdo" and "Wanna Be Rich" point out the fruitlessness of wasteful materialism. Yet, where his secular counterparts were left with empty nihilsm and despair after the destruction of these idols, Nobody Special fills the void with the love of God. Punks have always been experts at tearing down, but have seldon shown much skill at rebuilding what they have dismantled.
With the assistance, once again, of his brother Joey Taylor of UnderCover fame, Nobody Special has followed up with the kind of record that will prevent anyone from calling these guys wimps. With the welcome addition of real drums, over the last album's drum machine on some cuts, and the cohesive sound of a real band, instead of just a solo project, N.S. has improved leaps and bounds.

Although I appreciate the band's dedication to keeping the sound true to punk tradition, I still would have enjoyed the inclusion of more pop elements. I wouldn't cry sell out, I promise. Too much of the form's grinding nature can wear on the nerves after a while. Nonetheless, Nobody Special can be congratulated for providing us with the "real thing".
NoteBored Magazine Review


Vol III, No. 3 Nov/Dec '89
by Brent Hershey

If a record ever had "Southern California" written all over it, it's this second effort from Nobody Special. The title itself, Call It Whatever You Want, had the I-don't-give-a-flip mindset that encompasses the whole project. But although the attitude is very regional, the topics and observations found in the album's songs are quite universal.

Much like the group's first release, the medium is thrash/punk aimed at the hardcore skateboarder crowd (we'll call it skatecore). The speed of each song's delivery is not the center of attention, though; Nobody Special seems more aware of the passion and emotion put into each cut. This is one element that should widen the album's appeal beyond the skatecore audience, because the result is some very interesting music.

One major indicator of the Southern Cal sound is Pat Nobody's vocals. On most cuts, he speaks the lyrics rather than sing (or scream) them, which serves two purposes. The first is that it does give off a laid-back, "hey, whatever" vibe that is so common to the West Coast. And second, it creates a confrontation with the listener, especially on the faster cuts, that demands response. Such is the object of this style of music.

The slower cuts, too, reek of nonchalance. "What's the Buzz" has a simple chorus ("What's the buzz/Tell me what's-a happenin") that almost forces the listener to respond, "Not much, duuuuuuude." And the album's closer, "I Wanna Go Home," with its acoustic guitar picking sounds like your average lazy day at the beach.

But Call It Whatever You Want is much more than beach bums on a record. Through all this attitude is some rifty and often humorous songwriting. The album opens with "Once One Nation," a track about how America has sold out to pleasure. "You say the Bible/teaches reincarnation," says Nobody. "I think you're out on a limb/And God's out of a nation."

"Devil Metal" also attacks those whose life decision are made according to personal gain. With Los Angeles being the current heavy metal mecca, the group had much to say about musicians' drive to "make it." Over a mock heavy metal guitar and screaming lead singer, Nobody reveals, "I'm selling out/ I'm going heavy metal/Let's rock'n' roll/ Let's sing about the devil." All this to get fame and fortune. "And after that/... You'll be sorry."

Another pet peeve of Nobody Special is those who condemn others in self-righteous indignation. "Finger Pointer" is an angry tune that suggests love as the blanket for each of our imperfections. "Point your finger at me and I'll bite it off/ I don't need you to tell me how to live/ Ease up, pal, where do you get off?/Let's love one another; live and let live."

In general, you get the feeling that this is what One Bad Pig would sound like if they were from Long Beach. In actuality, the comparison to the Pig isn't that far off. Both play basically the same style of music, and both have fun, while not losing sight of the main reason behind it.

For all its Southern California references, "Call It Whatever You Want" has enough substance to appeal to alternative music fans everwhere. And for that, I call it a darn fine record.
More...

Last Will and Testament: A Christian Punk Jewel

"I'd call it punkrock." Jim Chaffin, The Crucified

"One of my favorite punk albums in the last ten years!" Bill Power, Tooth & Nail Records/ Blenderhead

"If I was stuck on an island, and could only have one record, it'd be this one." Mikee Bridges, The Tom-Festival/ Push Productions/ Sometime Sunday
Click Here for NS's 1st release " Nobody Special" reviews
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