(Red Scare Industries)
It’s best to get the fact that Derek Grant is the long-time drummer for Alkaline Trio out of the way quickly. His punk pedigree also includes time spent with The Vandals and Suicide Machines. Knowing that, this is a huge surprise of an album, especially coming from Red Scare who have such a strong roster of catchy pop punk groups. This is a far cry from the average “punk guy makes acoustic solo album of songs that sound like demos of his full band.”
The short EP flies by quickly as Grant explores a variety of pop related soundscapes in his songs. He starts things off with a couple of catchy power pop numbers, Waiting for the End of the World and Breakdown. There is a heavy 80s feel to the album, with Grant channeling Elvis Costello, new wave and Tom Petty at various points. Got a Feeling is a haunting homage to Cory Hart with a bit of subdued Billy Corgan tossed in. Lucy is a retro powerpop gem. That is where Breakdown succeeds, tugging at elusive musical memories from childhood, maybe snippets of a melody coming from a babysitter’s cassette or echoing through a supermarket fading in and out of the background.
The best parts of the dark breakup album come when Grant leaves the awkward 80s sounds behind where they belong, turning instead to restrained roots music. Turn and Walk Away and You Don’t Know recall early Neil Young and Blue Rodeo, strangely channeling country influenced Canadiana. These two songs perfectly envelop the melancholy of an ensuing divorce, while the more pop moments fit more uncomfortably with the theme. This is an interesting quick listen. (Dustin Blumhagen)