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The Greatest Story Ever Told

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Album Review

Though the Lawrence Arms' The Greatest Story Ever Told can't be expected to live up to its tongue-in-cheek title, the album is a surprisingly strong set of fresh pop punk that avoids the trappings and clichés of the genre. The sputtering, old-time sounding introduction makes for a unique entryway to the sparkling and grandiose (Sunny Day Real Estate-esque) "The Raw and Searing Flesh." "On with the Show" sounds like the Germs crossed with X, and "The March of the Elephants" thunders with an off-kilter, post-punk edge. With lyrics like "the swirl of smoke looks like her slender body," "Fireflies" — one of the record's best tracks — could almost be the Weakerthans or Waxwing, and if the Lawrence Arms followed suit with those groups, and added just a touch of country-rock to their work, they'd be astounding. The Greatest Story Ever Told is an album that will grow on you — it gets better and better with repeated listens, and like the Queens of the Stone Age, they use multiple vocalists to great effect, insuring that things never get repetitive or boring. Though it doesn't depart as much from its peers as something like Saves the Day's remarkable In Reverie, The Greatest Story spotlights the Lawrence Arms as one of the best power punk groups of 2003, and one that, with a little more genre-bending innovation, could create a real rock and roll masterpiece.

Customer Reviews

so "punk" bands sometimes DO have musicianship...

wait, did I just hear a reprise? yknow, that 'thing' where a band will repeat a hook or phrase from one song in a completely different song, except it's acceptable and quite deep? yeah, the lawrence arms did it, and they did it awesome. what i absolutely adore about this band is that they've had the same members since the start. they didn't take on a 2nd guitarist to add to the "live show" presence and - speaking of live show - they aren't really concerned about sobriety or hitting all the notes. the larry arms is a band of average dudes (above average at writing music) and they're not trying to be anything but that, not to mention ALL THESE GUYS are some of the nicest, funniest, and honestly good-hearted people I've ever met. I was lucky enough to see these guys live a couple times, the shows were a beer-fest of sing alongs and light-hearted jokes; one show, Chris even took his own time to sit down on stage and talk with me for quite a bit after a show. That doesn't usually happen. "the greatest story..." shows the larry arms standing the test of time. Brendan and Chris switch up songs here and along with the dynamic difference between the vocalists, the music changes too. "the raw and searing flesh" is a somber, melodic, beautiful song and is subsequently cut off by "on with the show"; a fist-in-the-air, volume to 10, rock out fest. Just the difference between track 2 and 3 should give anyone a general idea of what you can expect on this album, which is a variety of great, GREAT 'punk' rock music. Lyrics ranging from joking to completely contemplative, "the greatest story..." showcases TLA ability to do pretty much anything they want. Though this album might not be as "straight forward" "punk" as previous releases, people DO get older, and Brendan, Chris, and Neil aren't afraid to hand every down a little advice from their perspective. You'll laugh, you'll cry, and - if you are a fan of this band and haven't picked up this CD - do. It proves how music can mature and still attain the same adolescent passion that made it so fun in the first place.

I necer get enough...

of this album. This happens to be the first Lawrence Arms cd I ever bought back when I was in High School and still love it just as much as I did then to this very day :] The Lawrence Arms are just awesome.


I've just started listening to the Lawrence Arms not that long ago, and they are so good. I've listened to all of their albums and they are all amazing. But this album is by far my favorite. Just so catchy. I love it! get it!


Formed: 1999 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The Lawrence Arms got together in 1999 after the departure of Chicago pop-punkers the Broadways, Slapstick, Baxter, and Tricky Dick. The collaboration of Brendan Kelly (vocals/bass), Neil Hennessy (drums), and Chris McCaughan (guitar/vocals) produced music in the same vein of their previous bands: clever -- often politically inspired -- pop-punk with an aggressive, gritty edge. Asian Man Records released the Lawrence Arms' first album, A Guided Tour of Chicago, in November of 1999, while their second...
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The Greatest Story Ever Told, The Lawrence Arms
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