Is there more to Tom DeLonge than just Blink-182?
The darker side of the Blink-182 frontman becomes apparent in this amazing album.
A while back when I had first heard of a Tom DeLonge side project I pictured a sort of Blink-182 copy but with only DeLonge's hand in the writing process. I was half-right. DeLonge was the only one involved with the writing process of the lyrics and music of the side project "Box Car Racer" but it was not even close to being a Blink copy. From the first track of "I Feel So" to the shattering chorus instrumentals of the final track (dubbed "Instrumental") this is obviously no happy-go lucky walk in the park with your friends. Box Car Racer and their self-titled album produce a dark, moody, and honestly quite angry sound from the rough drums and screeching guitars of Travis Barker and David Kennedy, respectively. The band broke up after releasing their first and only album in 2003 with the break up of Blink-182 and DeLonge has confirmed that it is defunct.
Conceived as what DeLonge described as an "exercise" to see the limits of what he could write, DeLonge launched the band with Barker and Kennedy in 2002 and played bass and guitar on the record, having a touring bassist for live performances. The band took a break after touring for their album so that DeLonge and Barker could go record Blink-182's next record, the superbly masterful "Blink-182," another self-titled album. The band also featured two guest artists performing on two of the tracks, Tim Armstrong of Rancid on "Cat Like Thief" and Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, and later Plus-44, on "Elevator." Different playing techniques are implemented as well, including Barker covering his drums with old tee shirts for a muffled effect. Two songs were not released on the record but were performed live. They are titled "Mandy" and "Come Dance With Me." They can be heard here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QguVe9t9rK8 and here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8jx-YVN-Vs respectively.
A production still from the music video for the single "I Feel So."
The album follows a central storyline following a boy at the end of the world and exploring many themes such as religion, the apocalypse, conspiracies, and loss. The only two songs that stick out are "My First Punk Song," a song that is, as the title suggests, DeLonge's first effort to write a hardcore punk song. It doesn't seem to fit in well on the record as it's semi-comedic while the rest of the album is dark and brooding. The second song that sticks out is the penultimate track of the album titled "Elevator." It deals with a person committing suicide and a witness to the event. It was written in relation to the tragic September 11th terrorist attacks that had happened previously to the album's recording.
A DVD was also released with both music videos and bonus behind-the-scenes footage. It is called the "Box Car Racer DVD."
Although there are a few minor faults, the Tom DeLonge's angry and contemplative "Box Car Racer" has pushed what was known about him and his talents to another level as well as leaving a lasting impression of what can only be described as bitterness and regret. While DeLonge's current project Angels and Airwaves may not have the same ferocity of his defunct side project, this album deserves not to be forgotten have its legacy stamped on the face of punk, emo, and hardcore music in general.