Social Distortion

Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes (Epitaph)

ACL Music Fest Sunday Reviews

Social Distortion

Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes (Epitaph)

Mommy's favorite little SoCal monsters may have slowed their personal tempos a fraction, but this seventh studio album proves you can take the man out of the punk but you can't take punk outta Mike Ness. The leather-hided and Jack-'n'-Coke-voiced Ness has only improved with age, like a '59 Chevy ragtop with growler pipes. Instrumental "Road Zombie" opens flat-out badass, zero-to-light speed in 2:21, but it's Jonny Wickersham's buzz saw guitar duals with Ness on criminally evil "Machine Gun Blues" and the Stonesy "California (Hustle and Flow)," which recall the Social D of yore. "Diamond in the Rough" drops things back down into second gear with no less snarl and sneer before two-lane blisterer "Can't Take It With You" punches the turbo and blows your fancy speakers. Ain't nothing fancy about these nursery rhymes, just blaze-of-glory guitars and busted-dream lyricism from the jailbait-tight godfathers of melodic punk squawk. (7:30pm, Honda stage)


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