The Pack A.D.
We’ve seen and heard our fair share of blues-rocking duos right here in the Summit City area, and I’d say the quality has been strikingly consistent. From the rural stylings of the late, lamented Cornfed Johnson to the damn-now-we-have-to-share-them-with-the-world boot stompers Left Lane Cruiser, blues-informed rockers have been around for awhile here. That’s why it’s pretty easy to look at national releases with a jaded eye – a been there, done that, a “show me something” attitude.
Sure, there’s Detroit, there’s New York (stifle chuckle) and points south blasting greasy riffs from countless porches. Oh, and here’s a little something from the Great White North that puts a spin on the “two white dudes pumping out heavy blues” archetype: two white gals pumping out heavy blues with a rock edge. From British Columbia. The Pack A.D. pull no punches on their latest, Tintype.
Now, this could get a little tricky, so I’ll play the “Heart” card once and only once. Yes, singer/guitarist Becky Black can sound quite a bit like Ann Wilson after a pack of Camel unfiltereds, with the added bonus combination of blues-y grit and “hey you kids, get outta my yard” holler. And make no mistake, this album bristles with a grainy vibe, courtesy of Maya Miller’s no-frills beats and jams like “All Damn Day Long” and “Gold Rush.” My only misgiving about Tintype is this: the blues can be an unforgiving art form; you either pull it off or you don’t. Sometimes The Pack A.D. lean toward the rock and interrupt the vibe – which, under the right circumstances, can result in an individualistic melding of styles. But here it proves a bit of a distraction, a chink in Pack A.D.’s armor of authenticity. The rough and ready minimalist instrumentation, sometimes faltering timekeeping and Albini-Jr. production elements all provide prime ingredients for a indie-blues-rock dish du jour, but Black’s vocals occasionally wander into shrill territory.
To try to paint this band into a simple stylistic corner is a bit unfair, sure. But attempts to inject variety into the proceedings don’t really gel: the spooky, pretty lo-fi segue tunes peppered throughout Tintype are so divergent from the primal thump of the rest of the record that they seem a bit pasted in. That said, Tintype is a bold, direct album that should find its way onto some beer-stained local jukeboxes. Head over to www.thepackafterdeath.com for more info. (DMJ)
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