Jon Haber has spent the better part of life selling and making music. Ironically, the music that the now 49-year old has crafted and sold isn’t what one might think. Haber put his professional music career somewhat on the back burner years ago in favor of running his own chain of instrumental music stores called Alto Music. He also serves on the board of directors for the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), and even runs his own label. So despite not being a professional musician in the sense that some might think, Haber has never been far from the business that he loves. Now finally after years of putting it off, Haber’s dream will finally become reality. His debut album Dec III will be released Tuesday, September 30th via Raddist, Haber’s own record label. The new twelve-track record is a good, solid rock and roll record that is especially of interest for anyone that is a fan of King’s X and the solo work of the band’s guitarist Ty Tabor. While the album boasts a familiar sound for some listeners, what really makes it stand out is its lyrical variety. Haber and company run the gamut, lyrically speaking throughout the course of the album’s twelve tracks and roughly forty-five minute run time. The band offers a deep and thought provoking piece in the socially conscious ‘Black Kid on a Pink Bike.’ There is also something more light hearted in the album’s rather suggestive opener, ‘Put Some South in Your Mouth.’ And on the exact opposite side of the coin is the politically charged ‘Red Line,’ which tackles the subject of the Syrian civil war. For those that want to just turn off their brains, there are plenty of pieces centered on love found and love lost along the way, too. It just goes to show the true depth of this debut and that this record is more than worth the listen by any true rock and roll fan.
As already noted, Dec3 is a record worth taking in at least once. It may not be one of the biggest or most anticipated albums of the year. But audiences will agree that it is still an enjoyable record from start to finish given that one listen. One of the best pieces of evidence supporting that argument is the seemingly socially conscious ‘Black Kid on a Pink Bike.’ Front man Chris Saulpaugh sings in this sobering song, “I went to school each day/The old folks never hid their dislike/The other kids would point/And stare at the/Black kid on a pink bike/So off I go/With this double whammy all can see/Battling this war and peace/That’s raging all around me/All around me.” The gentle strains of Haber’s acoustic guitar accents the pain in Saulpaugh’s voice as he sings. One can almost instantly see this young, inner city kid who obviously doesn’t have much, being ridiculed by everyone around him. The very image of a black child on a pink bike paints that picture vividly. It is meant to bring attention to the struggles of young people living in an inner city setting. It is such a real situation for so many today that this picture could have been lifted right from the pages of a book illustrating the civil rights era or even from today’s society. Instead of just hearing lyrics, listeners can almost see the boy in the song singing Saulpaugh’s words in this bittersweet song. As painful and bittersweet as the song proves to be, it is one that needed to be presented. It forces listeners to look at one of those things that they would rather not see because it is not so pleasant to have to think about. And that in itself is what gives this song so much power. Together with its simple musical backing, it becomes even more powerful and important to the whole that is Dec3.
‘Black Kid on a Pink Bike’ is not the easiest song to take in by any means. But it is an important piece to take in. It touches on one of those topics that people would much rather ignore, sort of like a homeless person on the street. Haber and his band mates are to be hugely commended for tackling the subject and doing so in such an impressive manner. It’s just one part of the whole that gives this album so much heart. Those looking for something more peppy need look no further than the album’s not so subtly suggestive opener ‘Put Some South in Your Mouth.’ This straight forward rock song mixes a solid 4/4 time with lyrics that leave very little to the imagination to make quite the opener for this first effort from Haber and his band mates. Haber writes in this song of a man in a bar that meets a woman that is obviously ready to go so to speak. He writes, of the couple’s meeting, “There I was/A New York boy/Drinking beer in some BBQ joint/A band out back with Tele twang/Thought I’d see out what kind of game I brang/There she sat on a torn up couch/With glassy red lips that screamed out loud/Put some south/In your mouth/I’ll show you/What the fuss is about/You northern guys/Think you’ve got clout/But I can chew you up/Make you close your eyes and shout/She said push my hair back/I’m no girl scout/Put some south/Put some south in your mouth.” That’s just the song’s first verse and chorus. Things get pretty interesting from here. It’s definitely quite the first impression from the band. But when set alongside the album’s other compositions, it becomes clear why it was chosen as the album’s opener. Understanding that, it makes the album once again all the more enjoyable for listeners.
The members of Dec3 show quite a bit of talent and versatility throughout the course of its self-titled debut record. That’s evident through both the album’s not so subtle straight forward opener and through the more socially conscious ‘Black Kid on a Pink Bike.’ The combination of the songs’ music and lyrics exhibits that talent and versatility. Just as much proof of that talent and versatility is the politically minded ‘Red Line.’ The song centers on the Syrian civil war and comes from the vantage point of a civilian caught in the middle of the conflict. Again the band has shown a full understanding of a song’s impact by mixing together a somber yet somewhat heavy musical side with rather thought provoking lyrics. Front man Chris Saulpaugh sings in this song, “There’s not a lot left to shell/Not much standing here in hell/Watch where you get your oxygen from/A simple breath might be your last one.” The song also makes mention of the United States government’s involvement or lack thereof in the conflict. Saulpaugh sings of that issue, “The leader of the whole free world/Said that he’d help rescue me/But he ain’t tryin’/He’s just coloring lines/He said he’d be coming soon/His mind changed by the afternoon/Now he’s working on a deal with the man/Whose guns are shooting at me/Shooting at me/I tried to believe in him/But hiw words were just a fading whim/Someday he’ll look back and say/He should have stuck to his guns that day.” One must remember that this is being sung from the standpoint of a Syrian civilian caught up in the nation’s civil war. To an extent, it could be argued to be a protest song of sorts being written by an American. But at the same time, it could also be just a song meant to raise awareness of the conflict in Syria, and the overall human cost of the conflict. Regardless of which side one takes on that discussion, one thing on which both sides can agree is that it is one more example of what makes Dec3 an album well worth at least one listen. Audiences can check out the video for the song now online via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=19wi2J–DHQ.
Whether it be for the socially conscious ‘Black Kid on a Pink Bike,’, the not so subtle ‘Put Some South in Your Mouth,’ or the politically minded ‘Red Line,’ Dec3 proves to have quite the diverse lyrical content. And the King’s X style sound of the record will definitely resonate with some audiences. If the songs noted here aren’t to some audiences’ liking, worry not. There are also the songs steeped in the standard relationship topics, too (E.g. ‘Simple Mess,’ ‘In Front of You,’ and ‘Sunshine’). Regardless of which songs listeners choose as their favorites, every listener will agree once more that having gone through all twelve songs featured on this record, there is something for everyone both musically and lyrically. Such versatility and talent makes this a record that any pure rock fan will want to hear at least once. Dec3 will be available Tuesday, September 30th via Haber’s own label, Raddist. While fans wait on the record, they can keep up with all the latest from the band online at http://www.facebook.com/decband and http://www.dec3band.com. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.