Left Alone

Dead American Radio

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On their third album, and their debut for the Hellcat label, Left Alone let rip with a set so high in energy, it seemed to scream "live fast die young" from every groove. That may have reflected the fact that the band had only days to record the album, but this time around they were able to relax a bit. So the urgency may be gone, but the energy remains behind, as does Left Alone's love of genre stretching. This was evident in their earlier records, but with Dead American Radio they hit a new peak, taking earlier experimentations to fruition, and exuberantly folding in even more styles to their musical meringue. "Every Night" is the perfect example, an exhilarating, Rancid-flavored number whose melancholy theme is wiped out by the exuberant melody and frolicking Farfisa organ.

Rancid member and Hellcat head Tim Armstrong himself co-wrote and contributes backing vocals on "City to City," a classic crossover of melodic punk rock and ska rhythms, with the Farfisa again swooping across the grooves. But guesting organist Selector Pablo reaches his happiest Hammond heights on "Justino" and "4 Weeks," two more exuberant ska-fired numbers. Elsewhere, the band's own organist (and exceptional saxophonist) Noe pulls punk back into the new wave on "La Pregunta," which also boasts a guesting HorrorPops Patricia Day on vocals. Day also provides stunning standup bass on the high energy C&W punk of "Done Wrong," while Robert Bruce adds steel guitar to both that song and the purer country number "Waiting for You." There's a trio of exhilarating rockabilly/punkabilly numbers as well, further shaking up the set. There are even a few songs for punk purists as well, including the title track, and the band's singalong anthem "No One Likes Us." With themes ranging from "I Hate Emo" to drinking, sinning, loneliness, guilt, love lost and found, and the descent of our airwaves into corporate mulch, Dead American Radio seethes with emotion, electrifying energy, and some of the catchiest songs you'll hear this year. Superb.

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