Blacktop Mourning

No Regret

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This is the inaugural release from a new label founded by Counting Crows frontman Adam Duritz, and it features a band that he discovered MySpace. Blacktop Mourning are led by guitarist and songwriter Max Steger, who is something of a guitar prodigy and started his career playing in Chicago blues clubs at age 12 and was 18 when this album was released. Interestingly, you'll hear precious little blues influence on No Regret; instead, Blacktop Mourning have managed to harness the noisiness of post-hardcore emo and wrestle it into a pure pop sound that features plenty of tight, razor-edged guitars and chugging metal riffs but always seems to have its heart in soaring melodies and multi-layered harmonies. Imagine if the Rocket Summer had been raised on Spitalfield and the Promise Ring, and you'll have some idea what to expect. The album's opening track, "6 AM," is also its most perfect, a three-minute anthem that could be used as liturgical music in the Church of Power Pop. "Don't Defend" features both a solid wall of buzzsaw guitars and handclaps on the chorus, and there may actually be a string section on "Your First Crime." And "Hardly Recognize" is a ballad that is simply drenched in sumptuous harmony. This is one of the most exciting debut albums by a rock band in years.

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