Alone at 3 AM

City Out Of Luck

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Between the band name and album title, it's easy to assume that Alone at 3am are just another bunch of whiny emo kids and that City Out of Luck is full of passive-aggressive "waaah, I'm so sensitive!" songs like seemingly hundreds of other debut albums from the last ten years. Therefore, City Out of Luck is a most pleasant surprise, because this is a good old-fashioned, blue-collar indie rock record. Maybe it's just because the young quartet is from Cincinnati, OH, but the most immediate point of comparison to these gruff but heartfelt, guitar-heavy rockers is the Afghan Whigs. Lead singer Max Fender (that can't be his real name) is no Greg Dulli -- the chorus of the barroom rocker "Whiskey and Gin" rhymes the title phrase with "wash away my sins," and there are, one cringes to report, songs called "Sleep When I'm Dead" and "Catch Me If You Can" -- but he and the band work a similar blend of the Replacements and the Rolling Stones, with occasional traces of the pure pop balladry of '90s-vintage alt-rockers like the Goo Goo Dolls and the Gin Blossoms on tracks like the mostly acoustic closer "Soldered." So there's nothing at all new about City Out of Luck, but this sound isn't nearly as omnipresent as it was a decade or so before, and there's something refreshing about this unapologetically retro throwback.

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