Watch out - The New Jersey indie-rock / garage-pop band The Successful Failures have returned with a furious new album. Ripe for the Burning is SF’s 2nd CD, following closely their 2006 self titled debut CD and their 2007 5 song EP - Bridges Over the Delaware.
In the two years since the band formed, SF has been busy - playing shows all over the North and South East and as far west as Tennessee. Most of the album was recorded in NJ at the FDR Studio B and mixed in Baltimore, MD by Drew Mazurek (Jawbox, Love Nut, Linkin Park). Track 2, “All I Can Take”, was recorded and mixed in Knoxville, TN by Don Coffey Jr. (Superdrag drummer turned producer).
The Successful Failures entered the studio with a batch of new Mick Chorba songs chock full of hooks and melodies. With all pretense cast aside the band recorded the tunes with energy, passion, and precision. The only goal was to be true to the song and keep it under the 3 minute mark whenever possible.
Though SF was conceived to play Chorba’s more alt-country/ jangle pop type material, the band has evolved into something much more unique and powerful. The Successful Failures switch comfortably from a classic sounding country song like track 7, “Except Together”, to the pure power-pop flavor of tracks 1 and 2, to the grungy “Carolina (I’m in Love)” or the Superchunk-ish indie-rock vibe of track 5, “Never Moving Out”.
Able to change their sound up like powerpop chameleons, The Successful Failures mostly rely on western twang, so you know the harmonica and strong guitar are coming, but they are also not afraid to throw in the odd synthesizer or xylophone. “All I Can Take” is especially reminiscent of early Wilco, back when they rocked (remember that, anybody?).
"Ripe for the Burning" succeeds in producing one of those addictive moments when it’s a little difficult to discern when “All I Can Take” ends and “Bridges Over Delaware” begins. It is a memorable and effective transition, however. “Never Moving Out”’s lyrics border on the inane, but it rocks as hard as anything The Replacements ever did. So disregard the lyrics seemingly unfit for much else but something MTV would air midafternoon and seriously contemplate that you might just have a rod stuck up your ass if you can’t derive serious enjoyment from this one. “Except Together” should prove that this act is having a bona fide good time, and the best part is they don’t have to beat the listener over the head with it. That is, they don’t seem compelled to let you know that they have a sense of humor, and to this reviewer, that makes it all the more enjoyable. As far as the Successful Failures failures, the opening riffs of “Bigger Empty Things” is a direct lift from The Mountain Goats’ “This Year,” but gets more original later. An unfortunate irony exists in that “Sun Makes Circles” hints that S.F. might be flirting with lyrical ambition, but the music is the weakest on the disc. The only other snarky thing I can say that this has got to be the best band with the worst name, but that is no backhanded compliment: this disc is a must listen.
Review by Dan Pavelich
Entertainment Section, Kenosha News
The Successful Failures
Ripe For The Burning (FDR)
Fans of alternative music from the ''90''s (remember when "alternative" actually meant something?) will eat up "Ripe For The Burning" with a spoon. Led by one of the East Coast''s best and most-prolific songwriters, Mick Chorba, The Failures knock it out of the park with every song.
"All I Can Take" is reminiscent of The Kinks, while "Carolina (I''m In Love)" recalls Cracker at their most vicious. "Except Together" is a great country tune that''d do BR-549 proud. Versatility is this band''s strong suit, as they effortlessly mix things up so that no two songs sound the same.
You might think that too much variety might make things sound disjointed, but that''s not the case. Chorba''s instantly-recognizable voice, as well as a crack rhythm section, pulls the pieces together nicely.
THE SUCCESSFUL FAILURES - Ripe for the Burning CD / “Bridge Over the Delaware” EP (https://www.tradebit.com) On their “Bridges Over The Delaware” EP, South Jersey’s Successful Failures dog-ear a few pages of the Replacements songbook, and throw in nods to Cash and Kristofferson, covering Johnny & Kris'' gospel/country mid-tempo rocker, "Sunday Morning Coming Down." The Successful Failures’ version rivals the Stones'' "Far Away Eyes" with its lonesome-and-a-long-way-from-home vibe. The EP is just a teaser for the band’s third full-length album, Ripe For The Burning, a straightforward homage to pop punk, garage rock, and zine culture. The latter is represented by a tongue-in-cheek, cool as fuck song about a zine put out by "Niki Zerenberg." It''s a really funny story that sounds like an e-mail that was sent out telling of the virtues of Niki''s zine, and asking why people don’t pay more attention: "My name is Niki Zerenberg/ I run a magazine/ Need advertising?/ Why don''t you talk to me/ It''s hard to run a zine when you''re 17..." The cartoonish lyrics tell a tale that many zines face (hey Boss, how about a theme song for Jersey Beat? How about "We Are The Dateless Losers?" Or you could write your own… Kidding!) But the tune boogies hard, like early Raspberries, with spiky guitars, a solid rhythm section, and a delicious hard-working harp weaved throughout the song. Both the EP (only "Bridges on the Delaware" is repeated on both discs) and album are full of masterpieces of garage rock goofiness, free-floating riffs, devilish lyrics, and sweet as honey harmonies. Comparisons to The Replacements and Raspberries aside, The Successful Failures are definitely an original band that has a lot to offer. This is exactly how pop punk/ garage rock is suppose to sound: Songs that are aching to get you out on the floor, no matter where you are, stompin'' up a storm like the devil in the blue dress slacks! - Phil Rainone
Trenton New Jersey''s own, The Successful Failures, are back with their sophomore album, "ripe for the burning", which I can only assume means that people should burn copies of the CD for all their friends, as this album is one everyone should listen to (although you should really buy your own copy). This is the good type of pop music, the type that I think most of us wish mainstream radio would play. This is jangly British influenced garage-rock meets Americana alt-country, with catchy choruses, and classic backbeat. It''s the type of album that could make the sun shine on a rainy day. Ok, I know that sounds silly, but this album is just downright fun, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Twist and Shake
San Mateo, CA
Review by Beverly Paterson (January 31, 2008)
The Successful Failures "Ripe For The Burning" (FDR Records) The Successful Failures play a brawny brand of rock and roll characterized by clusters of crunchy guitar riffs, stomping beats and thrashing drum drills. Loose but tight, the band pour their hearts and souls into numbers such as "Stop The Planet," "Moving Out," "Bridges Over Delaware" and "All I Can Take." The energy level is exceedingly high and it sounds as if The Successful Failures are having their own little private party as they wrap their heads, voices and instruments around each song on "Ripe For The Burning." Bucking chord changes that are often unpredictable keep things interesting, while the melodies are tasty and tuneful. Powerful and punchy, "Ripe For The Burning" bursts and buzzes with one hard hitting track after another. https://www.tradebit.com