Drastic Andrew – Live Without Warning
Primary URL: http://drasticandrew.com/
Bands like Drastic Andrew will restore your faith in rock. The cling-clang of doom has rang out across the land and rock music is considered now, if anything, the dying fare peddled by aging bands to graying audiences. Thankfully, Drastic Andrew doesn’t buy into the fatalism. Instead, this New Mexico based outfit crafts consistently catchy and energetic material never lacking in intelligence or originality. They have tangible influences running through much of their songwriting, but these touches inform rather than guide the band. The band’s latest release, Live Without Warning, is a twelve song collection brimming with creativity and imagination.
The first rate production is evident on the opener. The band obviously understood that they had an ideal opener for this set with “Now” and its disjointed guitar lines and pop rock gloss makes for an exhilarating start. The pure rock songs on Live Without Warning share some common strengths. The arrangements orchestrate the band’s two-guitar attack in a seamless way while singer/rhythm guitarist Andrew MacLauchlan stretches his surprisingly versatile voice in unexpected, but wonderfully rock and roll, ways. “Evolution” has a slow tempo and bubbles with barely restrained fury while “Walking with Me” wails with convincing bluesy authority. “Send Him Back” and “1812” are songs near the end of the album; the former is an incendiary blast of chopped-down rockabilly while the latter shows a band unafraid to show their chops with multiple tempo shifts and varying musical textures driving the band’s historically themed lyric.
The album’s ballads or slower material is just as exceptional. Early tracks like “Every Minute of the Day” and the album’s title track show a band confident enough in their talents that exploring the decidedly poppier side of their sound comes out completely natural. There’s no sense of affectation or pandering for radio play. Other tracks later in the album show off the band’s songwriting and have a slightly ambitious flavor. “Pedestrian Love Song” marries a nuanced lyric with tasteful and layered musical accompaniment. The track also shows Drastic Andrew pursuing a more narrative-minded direction than heard in the surrounding material. “Humble” serves as an excellent case study of how to write songs about human virtues without ever sounding preachy or humorless. The band’s songwriting grounds this in a character study and ultimately invites listeners to form their own conclusion while nevertheless promoting their own. The album’s final song, “End of the Line”, has a simplified beauty lacking on many of the album’s tracks and, as endings go, might remind some of a leaf wafting gently to the ground. Drastic Andrew brings things full circle with its direct, if not slightly poetic, lyric and the tasteful understatement of the playing.
Live Without Warning is a stunning success on nearly every level and shows this band reaching an early peak in their recording and songwriting careers. There is a clear vision working behind each and every one of these tracks – Drastic Andrew never sound unsure or tentative and it’s a joy riding through their particular version of 21st century rock music.
9 out of 10 stars.