Home > TheRest > The Damn Personals – Standing Still in the USA

The Damn Personals – Standing Still in the USA

Big Wheel Recreation, 2002

At the time of acquisition, I had vaguely heard of these guys as a pretty solid Boston rock band.  I also thought their group name was quite good, and with a scratched out writing of it above a pretty good sketch of a lion, they looked like they could bring it loud and aggressive.  Unfortunately I did not get a copy of the Japanese, extra track copy as shown in the picture, because then I’m sure I would have awarded this record as the coolest looking dollar buy I’ve ever achieved.  Nope, instead I just get a lion.  Maybe I’ll try to get my wife to add some Japanese lettering to my copy so that its look is improved.  Oh wait, she’s Korean.  Fine, Korean writing.

The Damn Personals do consistently lay out the rock ‘n roll that was subtly hinted at on their cover, but it’s not nearly as aggressive as I thought it was going to be.  Which is fine if you don’t mind solid efforts.  The introduction to “F!cking in NYC” sounds as if the band is going to take off on a rager, but instead Ken Cook’s vocals brings it down a notch by mixing his high pitch and falsetto.  The only other band that I have known to try that is the Darkness, but they made their money by being an exciting mockery to the genre.   I’m pretty sure this approach was not the Damn Personals’ intent, so it is slightly disappointing to hear the combination of music and voice here.  The song still carries well at its quick pace so it does serve its purpose as a strong opener.

The rest of the album, however, does not hold the hard rock mold so well.  The more jovial, poppier title track incorporates high pitched ‘oh OH oh’s from the other band members and the chorus, though bright, never really jacks up any kind of emotion other than patient head bobbing.  In other words, since these guys are from Boston, it is likely that the hard rockers in the crowd at a live gig would be standing rock still during this tune.  Even the quite good “Amphetamine Rifles” gets much, much too cutesy in the middle after a riveting and accelerated beginning.  Why the band chose to stick in a bluesy swing right after a minute or so of excellent burst is beyond me.  It seems like the band sometimes over-thought their compositions and should have just stuck to shorter, good songs.

The Damn Personals do manage to cull together just enough all-around energy to make the band not sound too dull in terms of rock ‘n roll.  “Back At You” saves itself from mediocrity with a pick up during the chorus, while “Models & Airplanes” manage to get it going early after a sluggish start, which thankfully never returns for the rest of the tune.  It’s this song that makes me think that the Damn Personals could have been that long standing Boston band that would always be good for a steady rock album that one could depend on for a few kicks.  However, like the Mooney Suzuki, they may have never become someone’s idea of stellar rock, pop or automatic go to band.

Despite their demise eight years ago, someone has kept their MySpace page alive so you can listen to ’em:  The Damn Personals

The Damn Personals probably should have stuck around longer in Boston after this second and last record was released in 2002, but as it is with bands they split a few years later.  It’s a pity that a pretty solid band that was together for seven years only managed two releases, but I suppose one can’t always gauge a band’s influence based on album production alone.  I’m sure they were appreciated on the scene during their time, only to be replaced by countless other rock bands trying to entertain and, ideally, make it big.  Currently, their post-mortem success is getting saved from the bin!

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