Year 3, Album 2: Smacking and Smashing Our Way into the Mainstream

Year 3, Album 2: Beatsteaks – Smack Smash

Tracklisting

  1. Big Attack
  2. Visions
  3. Ain’t Complaining
  4. Hello Joe
  5. Hand in Hand
  6. Monster
  7. Everything
  8. I Don’t Care As Long As You Sing
  9. Atomic Love
  10. Loyal to None
  11. What’s Coming Over You
  12. My Revolution

About the Album

Smacksmash is the fourth album release from German punk band, Beatsteaks. Released in 2004 through Epitaph Records, it aided in the band’s march into the mainstream as it was also released simultaneously on WEA (Warner Music Group). The album spawned major hits, I Don’t Care As Long As You SingHand in Hand, Hello Joe, and Atomic Love. The album has currently gone platinum (in 2008, four years after it’s release). The Beatsteaks consist of vocalist and guitarist Arnim Teutoburg-Weiß, guitarist Peter Baumann, guitarist Bernd Kurtzke, bassist Torsten Scholz, and drummer Thomas Götz.

Thoughts on the Album

Day 2 takes us all the way to Berlin, Germany. The Beatsteaks are (obviously) a German punk band. They have been performing since 1995. Today’s album is their 2004 release, Smacksmash (or Smack Smash). This album is often considered the band’s breakthrough album.

The Beatsteaks’ sound and style is a unique one: it’s a strange mix of rock, punk, hard rock, and pop punk. After a few listens, Smacksmash is a weird one. It’s like paint-by-numbers grew a mohawk and threw the paint everywhere. Essentially a typical Epitaph record, it combines the loud-quiet-loud, three chord, and tuneful punk of NoFX, some horns thrown in the mix a la Less Than Jake (see two albums by Less Than Jake here and here!), and some shouty and in-your-face sound like Agnostic Front. It combines all that with such enthusiasm and with a huge grin, that it is hard to hate this album.

The melodic bits of this album are tuneful, the shouty parts are loud, and the the horns are both well-rationed and skanking. Track 9, Atomic Love, is more of a pop-punk/pop-rock feel to it. The track channels it’s inner-Ramones style punk. It’s short, choppy, but quick paced… but almost to the point where it’s more pop than punk. Likewise, the Joe Strummer tribute Hello Joe, falls dangerously close to more pop than punk.

While the album is heavily influenced by The Clash, it maintains a sense of originality. The record seemingly flows excellent from track to track, even with their experimentation with slower songs. A perfect example of this is I Don’t Care As Long As You Sing. It’s a weird mix of pseudo-reggae and punk, but it manages to avoid becoming too contrived. I my opinion, I think this track almost commands you to start swaying along to it’s beat, driven by Torsten Scholz’s bassline. Hand in Hand, the opening number, is a very melodic and catchy tune.

Conclusion

It almost is what you would get if you mixed The Clash, Swedish rock and rollers: The Hives and D.O.L.L., and The Strokes, and the tradition punk sound of the Beatsteaks. There is something in this album for just about any lover of rock music. This album however suffers from what I call “studio-vs-live show” syndrome. The songs sound much better live than the studio versions. Of course, this is another band that sounds better live than studio. It’s strange like that. It’s a more rocking and rolling number than punk, but the album hit it’s listeners with anthemic tracks one after the other.

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