Not many bands have tried to merge street-level punk with blue collar rock & roll, but that seems to be what Roll the Tanks are shooting for on their second album, Broke 'til Midnight. By their own admission, Roll the Tanks have a soft spot for classic rock as well as old-school punk, citing T. Rex and Cheap Trick as personal favorites, but the regular-guy attitude of the lyrics suggests some Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger albums also logged many hours on RtT leader Danny Carney's turntable, and the best songs here hit a middle ground between the day-to-day lives chronicled by the best Heartland Rock songwriters and the edgier sound and attitude of the Clash, Rancid, and other acts that followed their lead. The opening number, "24th and Buckets," even finds RtT tossing snark at the sort of druggy bohemians one might imagine other punk revivalists would want to court, and they frequently lament the prospect of lost youth ("Waiting on a Storm," "Assumption Army," and "Pistolero") and dead-end lives (the title track). And RtT don't seem very impressed with the comeback of vinyl ("Record Player") or the dominance of the blogosphere ("Computer Money"). But if this band isn't very excited about the arcane details of 21st century hipness, they obviously love rock & roll -- their farewell to personal hero Jay Reatard, "Goodnight Jimmy Lee," is tuneful and heartfelt, and most of these tunes are solid meat & potatoes rock, punchy but with a full complement of drive and passion. And Carney is a fine, unpretentious rock & roll singer, while guitarist Aaron Stuart, bassist Mike Wakeham, and drummer Joe Sirois back him up with skill and enthusiasm. If you're an aspiring anarchist, Roll the Tanks may not speak to you, but folks who work for a living and would like to hear from a band who knows what it's like would be well served by checking out Broke 'til Midnight.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming