It’s appropriate that 2011 has already seen a disc of acoustic Alkaline Trio hits, ‘Damnesia‘. While the group has never been strangers to stripping things down and unplugging, it was refreshing to hear a different approach to old favorites for an entire album. It also helped to prepare us for the solo debut from the Trio’s bass player/co-vocalist Dan Andriano.
Unlike bandmate Matt Skiba’s Heavens project, Andriano plays things close to the vest, sticking to a relatively minimalist acoustic approach. Opener ‘It’s Gonna Rain All Day’ only features lightly strummed guitar, piano, and oh-so subtle keys supporting his voice. One of the highlights, ‘Let Me In’ is so effective because its relatively lively and uptempo approach stands out from the restrained numbers that preceed it and immediately follow it. Some of the tracks seem like standard fare from a punk rock musician who goes the unplugged solo route. None of it’s bad at all, but some of it is exactly what you would expect which is about average. That said, a few more songs like ‘Me and Denver’ and Chuck Ragan will have to start looking over his shoulder. The finale ‘From This Oil Can,’ is a song that is dedicated to Dan’s daughter and has a bouncy, gentle guitar played using upstrokes which almost belies a slight reggae influence.
Lyrically, he mostly sticks to themes of homesickness, missing his family and the sacrifices that come with touring. It’s quite telling as far as the origins of the tunes. Things don’t descend into the often morbid territory that the Alkaline Trio often wallow. This could be Andriano attempting to separate this work from his day job, or it could be that Skiba supplies most of those lyrics.
Anyone who has followed The Alkaline Trio’s career over the years has surely noticed the improvement of Andriano’s vocals. It seemes that he has grown more confident which each release. It was only a matter of time before he tried his hand at carrying a whole album instead of a third of one. His growth continues here, with some career best vocal performances.
Though it may have intentionally flown under the radar, releasing this on Asian Man Records instead of the usual Skull and Bones guarantees a pretty limited presence in stores, it should reach some listeners who wouldn’t normally give Andriano the time of day. ‘Hurricane Season’ is certainly a worthy debut and any Alkaline Trio fans would do well to give it a chance.
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J.J. Ellis – When J.J. Ellis isn’t writing as the Allentown DVD Examiner, his Decent Exposure Radio can be heard on the air every Friday night from 10:30 to midnight (EST) on WXLV 90.3 FM or wxlvradio.com!