Steve Lieberman – Punkifier / 2005 Self / 18 Tracks / http://www.gangstarabbi.com / Reviewed 11 November 2005
The flutes are back. Coupled with that on tracks like “Punkifier 76-FX” is a bass so poorly distorted that every single smack of a bass chord is heard. This would be okay if the distortion wasn’t so loud, as I suppose that the bass lines are decently thought out, ropey like Rancid’s own. The “For Midnite Buttons Bat-Sheva” is an example of a track that is like a dog with mange; whether other, more cohesive acts can use breakdowns to intensify and punctuate their music, compositions like “Buttons Bat-Sheva” have sections that are lacking seemingly without point. “Jewish Riot” is one of the tracks on “Punkifier” that sounds closest like a traditional, old-school punk track.
This is due to the reduced role of the flutes (here, they occupy a space much like that of the horns on the X-Ray Spex recordings) and a further reduction on the distortion of the bass line. This bass line sputters out and restarts towards the end of the track in another one of these unexplained bald spots; it really is an ignominious ending to what was a solid track. “Punk The Wall” is another one of those tracks in which Lieberman calms down on the incredibly loud distortion and allows some form of musical skill to shine through; the only thing that really is suspect during this track has to be the poor recording of the flute. This recording seems to be more fitted for traditional rock instruments, and has a tendency to re-cast the arrangements into one cohesive beast instead of allowing each gust of air to shine. “Fallout Boy – Oy Oy Oy” seems to really contain a kernel of catchiness but is hampered by a little too much enthusiasm on the track.
This enthusiasm manifests itself in a warbly vocal delivery for Lieberman, something that diminishes the effect that the track can have in terms of message and overall sound. It is again that a non-Lieberman track provides some of the most enjoyable times on the CD, as the track “St. Jimmy” forces Lieberman into a closer scattershot of sound than any of the tracks prior. Perhaps if Lieberman would do a cover album or base an album off of one specific “sound” (perhaps the late-seventies punk that shows itself many times throughout Lieberman’s corpus), the result would be more solid. Still, the presence of certain factors on this album makes “Punkifier” not a complete wash-out.
Top Tracks: St. Jimmy, Lefty On My Lever