Album Review :
Craig's Brother - Easily Won, Rarely Deserved

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Label:People of Punk Rock Records
Release Date: November 22nd, 2022

Reviewed By: Brandon Jones

Tracklisting:

  1. Putrefaction of Trust (Instrumental)
  2. Violent Faith
  3. Out of Your Hole
  4. Imposter Syndrome
  5. Superhero
  6. Terrible Slave
  7. The Sacrifice
  8. Judgment Day
  9. Nosebleeds
  10. Earning The Hate
  11. Rodeo Clown
  12. Scattered and Few
  13. Ghost

Buy Direct from People of Punk Rock: Vinyl/CD/Tape

I’ve been sitting on this review since last November and since I tend to move slower these days with my writing contributions, it’s better later than never. Let me start off by saying that Craig’s Brother have been a favorite of mine since I first heard “Homecoming” all those years ago (25!). Their blend of melody, aggression, and thought provoking lyrics set them apart from the rest of the pack. I once had a label spinoff of Indie Vision Music and in 2019 I put out their “Devils in the Details” EP, one of the best accomplishments in all my years of running IVM. To say I’m biased is an understatement. Heading into this review you already know my tastes, likes, dislikes, and preferences for punk rock. With that said, here are some thoughts and words based upon my enjoyment of this here new Craig’s Brother album, their 4th full length release in 25 years. So, sit back and read, hopefully my words do this album justice and that this serves as a rightful tribute to a band I consider – legends.

Album starts off with a rigtheously aggressive, punk rock instrumental intro called “Putrefaction of Trust” that gets you acquainted with the sounds to come. It’s the perfect diving board into a pool of melodic punk rock jams filled to the brim with melodies, singalongs, and aggressive fists to the face with all that’s wrong with the world.

“Violent Faith” is the first official track with vocals to launch the listener into this listening experience, this album of pure excellence. This song is incredibly melodic, full of layered harmonies and fast beats. The punk rock flag waving song, going against those using the word of God to strike others down violently and hiding behind Faith to peddle abuse. It’s powerful and makes valid points.

They would denigrate what you call
the word of God to justify the ends
Without hesitation at all
And their faith is just an excuse for violence

Track 3 is “Out of Your Hole” and begins with the ever so subtle 60’s era organ/piano. Finger pointing punk rock done with Ted’s strong vocal presence taking center stage. The back up harmonies from Steven makes it even better. We know what this song is about and honestly I agree with the point of exposing a racist for what they are, a hate fueled, misguided, confused, and brain washed stooge of the worst kind. I really love the sound of this song and that surf guitar part toward the end of the song really amps up the originality along with the backing organ/piano. The Doors, Dick Dale, Bad Religion come together for a meal and then….Well Craig’s Brother sips the tea in the background. This song is really killer sounding. This song is closest with the post “Lost at Sea” sound and closer to stuff on Insidious Lie and Devils in the Details which personally, I absolutely love!

Now that you’re bold enough to come out of your hole
I guess you think the things you say are meaningful
But make no mistake, there’s no going back to the dark
You’ve shown your face now, everyone knows who you are

Now that you’re out of your hole
Now that you think you have power
Without your sheets and hoods, we finally meet the cowards
Now that you’ve finally shown your face
Now we can see your master race
Illiterate and toothless, going bald and overweight

Now that you’re brave enough to come out of your cave
I guess you think the rest of us should be enslaved
But you’re gonna lose because you’re outnumbered
Don’t trust your news, take a look around you

(chorus)

Now that you’re bold enough to come out of your hole
I guess you think the things you say are meaningful
But make no mistake, there’s no going back to the dark
You’ve shown your face now, everyone knows who you are

“Imposter Syndrome”. Fast punk rock and more in tune with “Homecoming” which is really quite exciting. I’m loving all the variety thus far. This song is deep and could be taken in several different interpretations, but I take it as the writer struggling to keep up a certain presentation when beneath the skin lies insecurity and self doubt. Feeling inadequate and thinking one is leading others in a false direction. Being the imposter in a self-created costume, consumed by fear, disappointment, and disillusionment.

I never want to be that person I hate
When the costume I create is gone

They might believe, they might believe
I might fool everybody
They might, just might, deny my mind.. silence again
They will believe, they will believe
I can fool anybody
They might, just might, deny my mind.. silence again
Silence again

“Superhero” was a pre-release single and could fit on “Epidemic”, or even “The Insidious Lie” yet it has heavy elements guitar wise and those bgv harmonies are absolutely killer. I do enjoy the song even thought it’s cuter than shit 😉 I am taking this song as a tribute to someone’s self-sacrificing, better half and I will totally agree with the sentiment. I sometimes call my wife a Superhero for all she has done for our family, continues to do, and all she has endured. This is the perfect song for all the superheroes in your life, especially in my case – Jesus.

More than the sand, more than the sea, more than the sky
More than the children wonder why
Greater than man, larger than life, beyond the sun
Better when all is said and done

I wanna be just like you
I wanna be like you
I wanna be just like you

Spinning the thread, making the house, food from afar
Sometimes I wonder who you are
Crafty at heart, cuter than shit, smarter than me
Blinded, but now my eyes can see

I wanna be just like you
I wanna be like you
I wanna be just like you
You’re a superhero

Healing the sick, saving the poor, finding my keys
Seizing the opportunities
Faster than thought, more than my mind, greater than one
More than the things I’ve said and done

I wanna be just like you
I wanna be like you
I wanna be just like you
You’re a superhero
I wanna be just like you

“Terrible Slave” is next song up and it’s a good one. This song really reminds me of something off their early material, like a mix between “Lost at Sea” and “Homecoming”. Starts off strong with a little acoustic guitar then jumps headfirst into some CB melodies. Someone is a little agitated with the world around them and playing the slave is certainly not going over well. Submission is not in the DNA of this songwriter (Ted). The dueling vocals of Ted and Steven adds layers upon layers to these songs and I’m so glad to see Steven playing permanently in CB and not just for vocals but his guitar playing as well.

The dream beyond, The world behind
The life you lead, it could never be mine
I don’t fit in, I won’t behave
I must admit, I’m a terrible slave
Didn’t you notice that I’m a man on a mission?

I don’t know what’s wrong with me but I tend to gravitate toward the melodramatic, the brooding and moody, and those ballads as well. “The Sacrifice” is a more self-focused, moody, introspective, and emotionally tell punk rock masterpiece. These are the kinds of songs that really add depth to an album such as this. It’s truth telling with a bit of despair and disappointment. I feel a common bond to this song and I share these sentiments in what I’ve done through IVM and before, for over 20 years now. It can be a lonely place and in the realm of entertainment you are forgotten faster than you ever had during your time at the top. It’s fast moving and the attention span of those in the entertainment biz is like a squirrel. CB will never be forgotten and your contributions will outlive the hollow shapes of human lives swallowing stages right now across the world in the name of fame. God Bless CB and God Bless Ted Bond for everything he has done creatively that maybe some have yet to discover. The Sacrifice indeed. Oh and speaking of the song, the vocal harmonies, guitar, bass, and drum parts all lead this song forward, revealing the layers beneath the surface.

Seemed like an important thing to do
Entertain the audience and everyone I knew
‘Til the day I became the one who was consumed
Now that I’m no longer there
You all act as if you care
Now that I’ve been buried
I’m somehow deified in a song
We all can sing along

And I sacrificed myself for show business
And my recompense for all I gave
Was a place among the famous, hopeless, shameless
Here inside the grave

Greedy eyes glued open in suspense
The lion and the gladiator making his defense
Let the blood flow if it will please the audience
When the hero’s dead and gone
Shed a tear and then move on
It’s only entertainment
I’m expendable after all, we all can hear the call

Now that I’ve nothing left to prove
Now that I’ve been stripped of my pride
Nothing left to save
Here inside the grave
Nothing left to hide

Next song is “Judgement Day”. This song begins with acoustic and I can’t tell if it’s harmonica in the background or string part but regardless, it rules! Fast punk rock and those tasty vocal harmonies. The production on this whole album is flawless and this track is a perfect representation of the thread weaving all the songs together in a certain professional commonality. The guitar solos are perfectly placed on this song as well. I hear a lot of No Use for a Name in some of these tracks which is incredibly because Tony Sly was one of our music scene’s larger than life punk heroes that many hadn’t discovered, which I guess you could say the same about CB in a sense.

Still waiting for you to pull yourself a clue
As if out of some cavity, but all I see is poo
Your excuses are new, but so is your hairdo
You still can’t accept that all this mess belongs to you
You’re waiting for someone else to clean it up for you
You still can’t accept that all this mess belongs to you
Even though it’s true, I’m not here judging you

But I know you could offer so much more
And I’ve been there before, afraid of change and overwhelmed by shame
But you know that nothing ever stays the same

I’m still waiting for you
I guess that’s all that I can do
But if you need a hand, I’ll help to pull you through
It’s not the things that you don’t do
That make you acceptable
You’ve nothing to prove to me ‘cause I believe in you
I’ve already seen the light that shines on you, it’s true
You’ve nothing to prove to me ‘cause I believe in you
And you know it’s true, I’m not here judging you

But I know you could offer so much more
And I’ve been there before, afraid of change and overwhelmed by shame
But you know that nothing ever stays the same

Time is wasting away
I guess that’s all that I can say
But if you want me to, I’ll wait ‘til judgment day
It’s not the things that you say that make you acceptable to me
You’ve nothing to prove to me ‘cause I believe in you
You don’t have to justify the stupid things you do
You’ve nothing to prove to me ‘cause I believe in you
And you know it’s true, I’m not here judging you

You’ve nothing to prove to me ‘cause I believe in you
I’ve already seen the light that shines on you, it’s true
You’ve nothing to prove to me ‘cause I believe in you

“Nosebleeds” is an epic punk rock pit stirring melodic masterpiece. It has a very modern feel and would be considered the next generation of Craig’s Brother oh and it is led in part by Steven Neufeld. Great little track and solid guitar playing.

You can call yourself a leader
But you knew that in your mind
You were part of something greater combined
Felt the world weigh on your shoulders
You were sound and you were light
Only one can voice your reasons with such pride

Fall, all the leaves will die
That’s when you’ll realize

Trust me, it’s all been said
Trust me, I’m not mad
It’s just me waiting for some semblance of our friendship back

We all knew that you’re a dreamer
There was no denying that
But the bonds we built together were our pact

Straws, dance away the night
Convince yourself to fly
You had me sacrificed

Trust me, it’s all been said
Trust me, I’m not mad
It’s just me waiting for you, waving from the nosebleeds
Trust me, it’s all been said
Trust me, I’m not mad
It’s just me waiting for some semblance of my friend,
some semblance of our friendship back

“Earning The Hate” is another solid song. Love hearing the bass guitar parts and hand claps are a nice addition. Incredible. More guitar solos, more background harmonies, more A+ 5 Star fan love. Well at least from me anyway.

Fulfilling fate
Earning the hate
I never deserved before today
In a terrible way
My name is great
Now that I’ve earned the hate

My prayer, down in the mud
Answered in blood
On the freshman lawn
My day, my very own dawn
Now my shame is gone
Let my name live on
And I own it, my destiny
I earned it in infamy

“Rodeo Clown” is a self-deprecating slice of humble pie. The song starts off slow and builds up the way any fine ballad would. Piano and acoustic guitar joined together in unison reminds me of something off Lost At Sea kinda like “Back and Forth” but with better sounding production. It’s a slow build punk rock ballad complete with a perfectly placed guitar solo and cut out of instruments at one point near the end and just focused on Ted’s vocals. It lasts but a few seconds but is really great. “Rodeo Clown” is the melodic punk rock “November Rain” and I would love to see this served radio/media sources.

You took it right out my hand and my master plan came down
I thought I had all my ducks in a row
Don’t you know, I found out the hardest way
Right when I thought for sure
There’s a trap door under me
It’s all over now
I’m just the fool you kick around
I know this
I’m just another rodeo clown

“Scattered and Few” is a song for the ages. It’s one enormous singalong session and I mean the whole song. Fast and melodic just the way us fans love it. The close at the end of the song with all the “Whoa!”s and piano is so killer, and I mean it sincerely. We’ve never heard Craig’s Brother sound better. This whole album is prime waygu beef or whatever the most expensive, well deserved cut of meat is.

Scattered and few, lost sheep of Israel
See how they stray, wandering in arid places
Some in the pitfalls
Some in the brambles
See how they wander back and forth
How the ramble
See how the feeble fall
And the simple stray
See how they need someone to guide them night and day
Down at the pasture, down by the water
Many are fed, but many more are led to slaughter
Children beware! Wolves in sheeps clothing
See how they act so small and meek but their teeth are showing
See how their lips are curled and their hearts are sour
See how they lie and wait for whom they would devour
See how they mask themselves with a thin disguise
Learn how to see the mal-intention in their eyes

..in their eyes

Whoa!

The album closes with a bittersweet story full of beauty and brokenness called “Ghost”. I know exactly who and what it’s about and it’s truly tragic to watch someone fall who made many contributions but due to personal vices, succumbed to the perils of this world (yet still alive). The way the song comes together and how it is performed fits the theme of this track as well as closes out this entire listening session on a poignant and poetically satisfying note.

Looking back, I should have seen the clues
Behind the drugs and the alcohol abuse
A flimsy patchwork of personalities
You made charming quirks out of OCD’s

And it’s strange, ‘cause they’re starting to tell
Your sad story, as if you had died
But you’re still around, lurking and creeling
Underneath a bridge somewhere, haunting this town
Like a ghost

“In the band”.. you like the way that sounds
But when there’s work to do, you’re nowhere to be found
Doing something well or showing up at all
With you, it’s anybody’s call

And now I know why
‘Cause you’re scared to be alone
So you give it up easy
And I might have known
You could never be counted on
To make up your own mind

…like a ghost, like a ghost

I’m on my own
Me and my imagination

This album serves as the best material the band has EVER done in their past 30 years of existence. Argue with me all you want but the sounds, production, subtle yet varying instrumental elements, and strength in all the vocals, truly push this album over the edge. The production is flawless for CB and puts them in the same league with any Epitaph, Fat, Pure Noise, Tooth & Nail, etc. band out there. I love every part of “Easily Won, Rarely Deserved” and it ranks up high on my all time punk rock favorites list thus the reason this release deserves a much earned “5”. People Of Punk Rock Records really went all out with the new Craig’s Brother music and Too Bad Eugene album. Go visit their site and buy some merch.

It’d be killer if some sort of Festival either this year or next, and featured bands like Craig’s Brother, Too Bad Eugene, Dogwood, Hangnail, Slick Shoes, Value Pac, MxPx, Five Iron Frenzy, Supertones, Insyderz, Shorthanded, Huntingtons, Two Timer, Broken Cedars, Sick of Change, Noggin Toboggan, Officer Negative, Watashi Wa, Olivia The Band, Gametime, Over It, Swellers, Rufio, Autopilot Off, etc Someone needs to make this happen!

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Loyd
Member
May 7, 2023 5:16 pm

You’ve persuaded me to want to check this out!

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