For the most recent Struck A Nerve: The Pop Culture Mixtape (Heroes In A Half-Shell Edition) on July 21st, 2014, our pop culture topic was the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I decided to tackle the pop rock album/tour “Coming Out Of Their Shells” that was a direct result of the success of late 80s/early 90s Turtlemania and presented an album review from those buzzkills at Pitchfork Media, and now you can read it and listen to the album that inspired it!-Dustin Meadows

Not content to simply fight injustice and evil interdimensional armies, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have decided to take the fight to our eardrums, punishing anyone who would be brave enough to put this album on and expect anything less than all out sonic assault on the senses, to say nothing of the hatchet job laid down on originality. The lion’s share of vocals are upon Raphael, who is clearly 100% to blame for the existence of Hawthorne Heights. Angst without the real world experience to ground it. At least that’s what his personality should dictate. Instead, he comes across as a maudlin Ryan Adams wannabe, singing trite lyrics with all the sincerity of a cover band playing the shitty dive bar in your hometown that lost its liquor license but just doesn’t care anymore.

The album kicks off with “Coming Out Of Our Shells,” a mission statement of the Turtles’ intent to rock and or roll, despite the fact that almost the entire album is about simply wanting to rock and roll instead of actually just rocking and rolling. They may as well get drunk and keep repeating “I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day,” because the Rock And Roll Train never seems to leave the station on this album.

“Sing About It” continues the inane theme of the opening track’s belief in the power of music, but the song is written with the reckless abandon of an established band turning in their throwaway track for the last album of their contract. On the debut album, songs like this are a telling sign that the band isn’t long for the world of music, at least beyond such esteemed stages as county fairs and rib cook-offs.

“Tubin” sees Michelangelo step up to the microphone long enough to give us a tepid and uninspired version of “Surfwax America” by Weezer if “Surfwax America” by Weezer took place in the sewers and also sucked gallons of derivative jizz from Sonic Youth, who can do no wrong as far as us douchebags at Pitchfork Media are concerned.

“Skippin’ Stones” switches gears by putting vocals in the relatively capable hands of Master Splinter and we’re briefly treated to a mediation that treads the territory of sounding like a B-side by emo heavyweights, Sunny Day Real Estate.

All four turtles share vocal duties on “Pizza Power,” a track that effortlessly utilizes the erratic vocals of early Red Hot Chili Peppers and the menacing but poppy instrumentation of classic Faith No More, clearly owing a great deal to tracks like the latter’s “We Care A Lot.” But we hate everything, so this song still fucking sucks.

Raphael returns to the mic for “Walk Straight,” an anthem that is clearly tied closely to the Straight Edge movement closely associated with punk rock and hardcore music. Thematically, this song owes a debt to bands like Minor Threat and Crucial Youth, although musically the song sounds less like Throwdown and more like INXS or the Fine Young Cannibals.

I’m pretty sure that the song “No Treaties” is about killing cops, and I guess that’s pretty cool.

Michelangelo unfortunately is allowed to sing another song, “Cowabunga,” which sounds exactly like the kind of toothless hip-hop anthem that a suburban white kid would write about his friends if he got mad at his parents for taking away his Super Nintendo and heard the Beastie Boys. Phil Collins’ tennis shoes are more intimidating than this track. I’ve got a verse that would’ve worked well on this song. “We’re the Ninja Turtles and we’re here to say we should kill ourselves.”

“April’s Ballad” is sung by reporter April O’ Neil. News flash-It fucking sucks. Imagine if Toto was tapped to write the song, didn’t try, and then let someone who’s never sung a note in her life tackle the vocals. Call us back when you let Cat Powers do a track, jerks.

“Count On Us” closes out the album just as weakly as the first track opened us up to a world of disappointment. Never has a band been so intent on devoting an entire album to making a statement that ultimately says nothing. This song is rife with cloying platitudes and vague metaphors of self-empowerment and taking a stand. The Turtle Power on this album is at an all time low and also this album isn’t the new Arcade Fire, so of course we hate it. Next time you’re gonna be derivative, guys, at least rip off Fugazi.

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