Album Review :
The Hoax - Stumbling Through

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Band: The Hoax
Release: Stumbling Through
Label: Thumper Punk Records
Release Date: May 2011
Reviewed By: BMer

Track Listing:
01 Stumbling Through (2:19)
02 Circle Pit Or Go Home (1:41)
03 Die To Self (1:21)
04 Stress (1:36)
05 No Excuse (1:35)
06 Another Day Gone (1:30)
07 Plastic People, Plastic Society (1:17)
08 Tough Guy (1:09)
09 Shot Heard ‘Round the Corner (2:37)
10 Just Run (2:07)
11 My Revolution (1:38)
12 Fake Reality (1:29)
13 Crucified (1:36)
14 I’m A Slave (1:50)
15 O Frick (Dirtfoot) (2:36)(10:00)

The Hoax is a punk/hardcore band from Southern California. Their Thumper Punk Records debut is titled Stumbling Through and it features 14 songs in 24 minutes, a blistering pace. Back in the day this style of punk was considered “hardcore”, basically fast and loud, circle-pit style music, before bands focused on being “heavy” and “brootal breakdowns”. There is definitely a Minor Threat influence here with the short, to-the-point songs and yelling vocals. The other major influence is Office Negative although not necessarily in the sound but the style of sound; the drumming and guitar-work is very tight and smooth, while the vocals are harsh and rough.

For most part the songs are fast and furious, and relatively creative in the sense that there are tempo changes, interesting riffs, and a few other punk tricks that you can cram into 1:30. The standout tracks from the punk tunes are the opener “Stumbling Through”, “Plastic People, Plastic Society” and “Tough Guy” (I always enjoy a track calling out Punk Jocks). After those tracks though the mood changes. “Shot Heard ‘Round the Corner” is a chill ska track done pretty well. “Just Run” is brutally slow and generic, probably shouldn’t have made the album. “My Revolution” has that rockabilly feel, also done well.  It’s very apparent that the musicians have a lot of talent and can play quite a few genres of music well. Even the punk riffs and palm muting are done with skill, very tight and very clear, sometimes ridiculously fast!

Lyrically there is the a few themes explored from asking for guidance from God (Stumbling Through) to dying to self “Just take your insecurity and give it all to Him. Take all your wants and cares and give it all to Him.” on “Die To Self”. There are also the typical punk themes like wanting a violence-free show (Circle Pit or Go Home) and the consumerism shallowness of society (Plastic People, Plastic Society). The lyrics are encouraging and motivating, although they don’t really offer much depth. The vocal delivery is probably the weakest aspect of Stumbling Through, the words are almost undecipherable even reading along with the lyrics. Band can still have yelling-style vocals but clear enough to understand like Sick Of It All, Minor Threat, or even Black Flag. It’s tough to spread the Good Word if kids can’t understand the words, but then again, scremo bands still have fans so…

OVERALL The Hoax have a great little punk album here in Stumbling Through. While there are many nods to the previous era of punk/hardcore The Hoax made sure the quality of the recording was still up to current standards (a hat-tip to Live Wire Recording Studio where the album was recorded). The musicianship is excellent and I think most listeners will become fans depending on how much they dig the vocals. The Hoax can carry the torch of punk back into the forefront of the scene.

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