This isn’t what I expected—there’s way more country punk twang than when I caught a short pre-Fest show from Timeshares last year. On Already Dead, the band takes that familiar Fest beard punk thing and mix it up. Using a core of gruff pop punk, they’ve tuned the guitars more clearly and chosen licks over chord progressions for their bridges, and it makes this record every bit Lucero or Uncle Tupelo influenced as with Hot Water Music or Iron Chic. It’s something different, which is always important when I mentioned that I first heard the band at a festival with close to 400 acts in the line-up.
On Already Dead, it works best when it falls somewhere in between all the styles mentioned, with a foundation in punk but some sneaky and stylized guitar to add flair. “Same Day, Different Week,” for example, leans too far into crisp and produced pop punk and it’s a low point on the record. Meanwhile, “Spend the Night” has shades of Lucero, and “(Corner of) Park and Park” is a straight-up guitar song with some twanginess defining it. “Tail Light” has that soaring pop-punkish vibe, complemented by the bigger bridges and some rock out moments, mixing the two worlds seamlessly. Next comes “The Bad Parts,” which implements a little more ‘70s guitar rock influence but they keep it concise, which is key. It gives some extra volume and extra drama, but still keeping it tightly in a 3-minute verse/chorus/verse package. They implement these additional sounds without losing direction in the process. In this song there’s a definite Lucero influence in the slowdown, emotive vocals as the music draws to a lull along with those vocals; hits its moment; then peaks back up into the rawk. It remains celebratory (“don’t forget the good parts”) but draws influence from the country-punk weariness.
That weariness, unfortunately, helps make the band different than their peers, but it also requires a different approach to sequencing. The primary lacking point with the album isn’t the songwriting, but that there are few ups and downs across the record. Individual songs have their respective movements, but start to finish, songs 1-10, play on the same emotional base, with a lot of sameness creeping in. Already Dead is solid, but also unspectacular, as it never really jumps off the needle with extra life.
7.0 / 10
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