Left Alone

Lonely Starts & Broken Hearts

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Every punk band, by definition, brings a sense of urgency to its music. Left Alone, however, take that impulse several steps further, smacking out their songs like there's no tomorrow, a truly unlikely proposition for a group with two EPs, two split albums, and two full-lengths already to its name. They bring this headlong feel to everything they do, a reflection of their own D.I.Y. ethos and a long history of pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. Signing to Hellcat hasn't changed a thing -- if anything, Left Alone seem to be working even harder to prove they haven't softened their stance or sound. Not to fear, it's still razor-sharp, as the Aloners storm across a baker's dozen of incendiary tracks, rubbed raw by the reverberations of punk past. But in true new-school fashion, even though the bandmembers studied hard at the feet of their progenitors, they don't merely regurgitate what they've learned, but twist this knowledge to their own ends. Thus, "Heart of Mine," a country-punk love song, suggests Social Distortion without ever sounding much like them, while "My 62" tweaks the Ramones while pogoing a paean to singer Elvis Cortez's beloved car. On "Another Feeling," the group mashes it up 2 Tone style, but none of the checkerboarded posses ever let loose with power chords like these. As for "Dead Red Roses," if the Rolling Stones had tackled ska back in 1966, it probably would've sounded a lot like this. The Clash, in contrast, could play reggae effectively, and they get a nod on "Broke My Heart," but when the Lefties actually tackle reggae with "Be My Side," they look elsewhere for inspiration, bringing a fabulous Celtic swoop to the song. Then again, Rancid are the Clash's biggest fans, and they too are an obvious influence, as the title track and "My Whole Life" well illustrate. Every one of those songs is a standout, and there isn't a less than great track on this set. Even if the bandmembers are happy to stitch their influences prominently into their songs, their approach, scything lyrics, and sheer determination are all their own. A stellar set from one of the best bands on the scene.

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