Header image courtesy of Double Helix Records
By Andrew Earle
Album available via Double Helix Records
Writer’s Score: 4 out of 5
Prologue: Not every one of my reviews will begin with a “prologue,” but this is the very first one for me here at VWMusic, so here we go. As many know, VWMusic was founded by Andrew Daly (I did push him a bit), so it’s not a coincidence that “vinyl” is in the name. We are believers in the format (and physical formats in general), as you can tell by our sister Facebook pages, Vinyl Addicts, CD Addicts, and Cassette Addicts.
We believe in the immersive experience of vinyl as opposed to the disposable background noise that is streaming. I love live music and live albums. I’m not a microscope listener who wants a live performance to be “click track” metronome perfect; that’s what the studio is for. With news stories about bands being “unable to perform” due to missing laptops containing “trax,” I wonder if they are more theater than musicians. If the live energy can’t impress without visuals and timing aids, I question if it’s worthwhile.
And now… the review. This double album is a beautiful package. It’s a limited edition (three color variants) hand-pressed by Burlington Record Plant in Vermont. And as you can see from my photo, the half and half color variant looks beautiful. It’s got a nicely done gatefold jacket with my personal favorite paper with plastic inner sleeve disk sleeves—excellent initial presentation and materials.
Photo credit: Andrew Earle (VWMusic)
As for the record, it sounds great, and it’s a clean pressing. I didn’t see a spec or tiny defect. I listened with EQ flat first spin of side one, and it sounded fine. I then adjusted EQ to my preferred settings, which really came to life. I’m told that Jason Livermore of the Descendants and NOFX handled the mixing and mastering at Blasting Room Studios. He really brought a ton of life to the raw material of this live recording.
As for the members of Useless ID, they’re in fine form for this hometown set of 28 songs spanning their 8-album catalog. Stylistically, they’re pop-punk a la NOFX, Simple Plan, and Bad Religion, but they are still their own thing. They’re lyrically driven by the social and political climate of their homeland of Israel and life we in North America can only imagine, as well as the personal struggles everyone worldwide can feel akin to. And even though I hadn’t heard their music more than in passing in the past, it felt (feels) familiar.
With 28 songs, Live In Tel Aviv is a lot to take in, but it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly long a listen. But you could definitely play one disc or the other and feel satisfied. I’ve been through it four times in its entirety. The closer “State of Fear” is a rager. I find myself humming like an old favorite I’ve been listening to for years while taking it off the turntable and returning it to the sleeve. This documents a band in its prime in its element. I’ll be diving into their studio albums after having been hooked by this record.
– Andrew Earle (@p.s.idiot_music) is a contributor for www.vwmusicrocks.com and may be reached at email@example.com