Le Scrawl: Full Frontal Nudity: DVD

I stared at this for a couple minutes, thinking, “What the fuck is this?” At first, I thought it was a packaging gimmick. I thought they put a CD in a DVD case to make it stand out. After all, Life Is Abuse doesn’t put out DVDs. Bands on labels like Life Is Abuse don’t put out DVDs. Only Christina Aguilera and Epitaph bands do that, right? Eventually, I realized I was wrong and popped it into the DVD machine. As it played, I still couldn’t help but ask, “What’s the point?” Let me step aside from that question for a moment and make something very clear: Le Scrawl is an awesome band. They refuse to commit to a single genre, instead jumping between grind, crust, street punk, death, hip-hop, jazz, ska, and more. They manage to make these jumps seem perfectly natural. They never seem like they’re forcing them for novelty purposes. So, with that point clarified, I’ve got serious issues with this DVD. To me, there are three types of music DVDs. There are the documentary-style videos that delve into what the band is about, letting the viewer truly get to know them. Next are the basic live DVDs that strive to bring the experience of the live show into the viewer’s living room. Last, there are those that are slopped together and thrown in as bonus discs to complement a music CD. Unfortunately, this Le Scrawl seems to fit best in the final category. With the exception of countless shots of the band on the beach—the type most commonly seen in the worst of VH1’s adult contemporary music videos—there isn’t much offered to bring viewers closer to the band. Despite some interesting split screen action and shots of excited crowds, very little energy is conveyed in the live footage either. The sound is great. The music is great. It just isn’t visually stimulating. In fact, I got bored. A live CD would have been a much better choice than a DVD. At least then the listener could have appreciated the excitement inherent to the music without being bothered by the tedium on the screen. –MP Johnson (Life Is Abuse, PO Box 20524, Oakland, CA94620)