"Live and Lawless" (Suburban Noize; 2008)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I haven't seen Unwritten Law perform live but, judging from "Live and Lawless," it's probably an item I should put on my "things to do" list.

"Live and Lawless," as you might guess, is a live recording of the enduring punk band. There are sixteen live tracks on the CD and the band doesn't disappoint on any of them. The entire performance is driven by high energy indicative of a) the band's confidence in their music and b) their desire to give the audience their money's worth. It helps that Unwritten Law's songs tend to be better than most of the other "power pop" bands out there.

Highlights here include "Seein' Red," of course, as well as live and studio versions of "Shoulda Known Better." A DVD is also included which contains the entire live performance, featuring five additional songs,  plus a kick-ass video for "Shoulda Known Better," as well as an interview with the band.

Fans of Unwritten Law already know how dynamic the band is in concert; others may be convinced by the high energy captured in this recording.

For more information, check out http://www.unwrittenlaw.com

"Here's the the Mourning" (Lava; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

The first track on Unwritten Law's "Here's to the Mourning" was cause for concern. In a world of self-proclaimed "power pop" (see our interview with Unwritten Law by clicking here), Unwritten Law has survived by being something more than yet another clone of Blink 182. "Get Up," the CD's first track (not counting the short,  unnecessary "Intro") is sponge rock, pure and simple. It's exactly the kind of stuff you want to avoid at the Warped Tour, the kind of music that too many bands are playing and that sounds too much like everything else.

Fortunately, things only get better from that point on. As with the best of today's punk rock (or "power pop"), Unwritten Law aren't afraid to experiment a little bit, expanding their sound into various genres, tempos and attitudes.

As with "Elva," the last CD reviewed here, "Here's to the Mourning" is at its best when it rocks harder, as on "Lost Control," "F.I.G.H.T." and the simmering heat of "Rejection's Cold." There are a number of funkier numbers, too, including "Hide Away." These are songs that can't really be called "rockers" but that stretch the image of what punk (or, again "power pop") is all about. And, of course, there are the slower "ballad" songs that aren't dull enough to make you reach for the "next" button on your CD player but don't hold up to the rest of the CD.

With "Here's to the Mourning," Unwritten Law don't aspire to the level of such bands as Green Day, the Offspring or Sum 41 but they don't fall to the level of so many other sponge rock bands out there, either. And although that may not be a lot to celebrate, it's something.

For more information, check out http://www.unwrittenlaw.com

"Elva" (Interscope; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

I don't know how you'd define the music of Unwritten Law. The band plays hard rock that sounds a little like Blink 182 punk (but edgier and chunkier). They're at their best when really rocking, although the slower, softer tunes don't make you reach for your Stop button ... at least not right away. But it's the band's chunky, playful riffs that make Unwritten Law stand out.

Interestingly, vocalist Scott Russo has a very slight but detectable rockabilly rebel yell to his voice which works nicely with the band's chunkier, faster tunes. The first track, "Mean Girl" and track 5, "Blame It On Me" are highlights. The band also puts synthesizers to good use, especially on "Mean Girl."

Strangely enough, the title track is a loping little number that just rolls nicely along, kinda like a newer Doobie Brothers tune.

Unwritten Law: Scott Russo - vocals; Steve Morris - guitar; Wade Youman - drums; Rob Brewer - guitar; PK - bass.

For more information, check out http://www.unwrittenlaw.com

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 04 Sep 2023 15:33:16 -0400.