Automatic 7

Beggar's Life

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Perhaps Automatic 7's deepest and most realized effort, Beggar's Life displays the band's polished brand of introspective garage punk made famous by Mike Ness and his seminal '90s punk outfit Social Distortion. Face to Face also comes to mind during the earlier, more immediate tracks; the disc's opener "Broken Record" being the most reminiscent of Automatic 7's occasional Vagrant Records labelmates. Memorable choruses and energetic performances make up the first half of Beggar's Life. These punchier songs definitely have the effect of drawing listeners in and setting them up for the CD's slower and darker message-driven finish. Beginning with the title track's road-weary isolationism, Beggar's Life settles into a more mid-tempo groove. Songs like "Syringe," "All They Can Steal," and especially the CD's closer "We're Through" reveal singer/guitarist John Hulett's more than casual similarity to Mike Ness' vocal stylings and regret-filled storytelling. On tracks like "Waiting for My Ride," Hulett apes Ness so thoroughly that listeners might even detect a trace of '80s post-punk crooner Joe Jackson, who no doubt influenced Ness' own vocal delivery. Usually recordings as derivative as Beggar's Life come across as soulless and annoying but Hulett and Automatic 7 attack their less-then-original material with skill and, most importantly, incredible passion, elevating Beggar's Life's hero worship into a kind of punk art form.

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