February 16, 2010 - Fat Wreck Chords
At some point, No Use For A Name frontman Tony Sly has put on one of Mike Ness's solo albums. He's heard the Social Distortion man's tales of hitting bottom, his poetic take on heroin and booze-fueled demoralization, and he's thought, "I've had my woes. I can do that." Trouble is, he can't.
12 Song Program is undoubtedly an extremely personal journey for Sly who, based on the subject matter on these songs (drinking, relationships, more drinking), has had his troubles and has battled some fairly persistent demons. What's tragic, especially when considering the joy that is a No Use For A Name show, is that Sly ends up sounding more like John Mayer than Mike Ness over these dozen tracks. While the current trend in punk rock seems to be leaving the band behind ad going it alone (see new releases from Joey Cape, Chuck Ragan, Tim Barry, et al), Sly's songwriting lacks that oomph that a solo artist needs to make up for the lack of a backing band. The fact that he's pouring out his heart should at least make the songs interesting but no, they're sickly self-indulgent and horribly insipid. Generic, even. Proof positive that hellish experiences don't always lead to good music.