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Pain: A Retrospective

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Pain: A Retrospective

Filip Musial, Too Cool For School

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It is a truth universally acknowledged, that all ska bands hate themselves. Exhibit A, Pain, who were a definitely not-ska rock band from Alabama from 1994-2000. This description would probably confuse you given that horns featured prominently in many of their songs, but just trust me on this one.

Beyond the identity issues though, the band has some pretty interesting things going on. Their songs range from a 30 second instrumental titled “Malk,” to a Jabberjaw commercial, to “The Comeback,” a four and a half minute song detailing the singer’s “comeback” from being a “punk-*** useless slob” thanks to a girl he met, mixed with just a bit of finding God.

That said, their records all deserve a little bit of commentary.

Goggins

Their first album, and it’s quite unpolished, as first albums tend to be. Not that their music ever really was super polished, but it’s all relative. I guess this is more of a demo tape, but whatever. It starts off with a great horn intro on the song “Idle Hands,” a couple decent tracks follow it. We start to see the Christian undertones of  Pain’s music in the fourth song off the album, entitled “The Man Upstairs.” On its own I think this would probably make you think of God, but Pain really affirms this with their frequent use of “The Man Upstairs” to refer to God in later songs. Overall the album is decent. A few forgettable tracks, but other than that it’s good. Also, if Youtube comments are to be believed, quite a few Pain fanboys are jonesing to get their hands on a copy of this album, so if you happen to have one, this is a quick way to make $100.

Midgets With Guns

Another good album, it starts on something a bit different from their usual with “Pose Ode,” a quiet, low-key song about the band and shows. After that it’s a record full of fairly solid tracks, noteworthy among them “Milk,” “Square Pegs,” “Grudge,” and “Derision.” These are all high energy songs that showcase Pain at their best, with the horns blaring and the drums banging. The last song is a continuation of the opener, but with drums and horns.

Wonderful Beef

This one starts with 30 seconds of mostly random noises, but goes on to some very good tracks. “Antidote” is a wonderfully catchy and cathartic song about a relationship. “Suckerpunch” is another great song, detailing a plan to make a killing by betting against yourself in a boxing match. Other than that, “The Bottlerocket War” and “Easy Out” are also good.

Full Speed Ahead

This album contains some of Pain’s finest songs, specifically “Right On,” “Full Speed Ahead,” and “Cap’n Scrub.” “Right On” is very much an expression of frustration with being cut short in the pursuit of goals by others, people who are supposed to be on your side. We also see some of those Christian themes here, as Dan Lord (the lead singer) says that the most important lesson in life is to “submit to the will of the man upstairs,” and that the song is an “immature prayer.” “Full Speed Ahead” is honestly just a really fun, energetic song. Finally, “Cap’n Scrub” is a relation of the singer’s high school experience.

Jabberjaw EP

This is hands down the best Pain record, simply because it contains the song “Jabberjaw.” This is an amazing song that was featured in a commercial on Cartoon Network. If it contained no other songs this would still be great, but it has two other good Pain songs, “Full Speed Ahead” and “The Comeback.” If you listen to one Pain record, listen to this one.

The band went “on hiatus” in 2000, effectively breaking up. Dan Lord, the lead singer, went on to become Director of Religious Education and Evangelization at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina. Not really surprising given his lyrics. Mark “Pose” Milewicz, the bassist, is the dean of UNC Pembroke’s Honors College, and the former trombone player Demondrae Thurman is works at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. The rest of the band still lives around their home town of Tuscaloosa.

Basically, if you’re looking for a band to listen to, listen to Pain. They’re great, and you can feel cool because you listen to obscure music.

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Pain: A Retrospective