Lifetime has supplied me with a soundtrack to my life through the late high school years to early college years. The first time I heard these guys from Jersey I was floored by their ability to write such heavy, yet catchy guitar lines with in-your-face vocals. The lyrics talked and roared to me like no other words in music did before. Lifetime helped me discover what the phrase "memories and melodies" was all about, and for that I am forever grateful. It seems so cliché however, for another music journalist or another band member to explain how much and how deep Lifetime impacted them in a positive fashion. Truth being told though, there is a reason for that, because I would bet most of the time, what is being said is the absolute truth.
Thanks to another gem from Jade Tree, Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey is a collection of rare demos, compilation tracks, cover songs, remixes, unreleased and live tracks. The songs span and document how the band’s sound evolved from the beginning to the end. One of the neat aspects of this double-disc is to hear how far ahead of their point in time Lifetime truly was. So many of the bands you hear today have been influenced in some way by the wound up, melodic hardcore music that defined a generation of kids that spent their Friday nights crammed into a dingy basement somewhere in New Jersey, rocking the night away.
What may be neatest aspect of this release is the 52-page booklet that accompanies Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey. It is packed with photos, lyrics and other words that do a wonderful job of spanning and documenting the history of the band. If they made a class in high school for young punkers titled Lifetime 101, this double-disc and booklet would serve as the textbook. The first disc features everything from B-sides, 7" tracks, and unreleased mixes. Most of these tracks are as raw as you will get, and really capture that unrefined and unprocessed essence of the band. The second disc goes a little overboard in that all the tracks from the Background album are included and then re-hashed with a poor live recording. I can honestly do with the live songs, but having them back-to-back with the original tracks is a little overboard in my opinion.
With it looking more and more like Lifetime will be heading back to the music world (yes the rumors are true), courtesy of a label from a pop-punk king, no one really knows what their new material will sound like or how it will be accepted. I’m really glad that Jade Tree put this collection together. It reminds me of who Lifetime truly are. I can’t get mad at whatever or wherever the future of the band is headed, but I do know one thing, their past made them, and I’m glad I got to experience that back in the day, and now once again on Somewhere in the Swamps of Jersey.