by GALEN WADE
I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, or a band by its press photo. The band pic that accompanied Lost Armada’s EP Empty Houses (Floyd’s Bark Records), showed four young, sardonic-looking dudes posing in their Sunday best in front of a fireplace. It’s a jab at the American family Christmakuh photo, and I thought one more group of pop-punksters vying for a side stage on the Warped Tour–one of them even had hair like that guy in Coheed and Cambria.
I was wrong. Chicago’s Lost Armada is not another emo whine-house. They’re Windy City kids who like distorted basement guitars probably just as much as a cold can of Honker’s Ale and a warm Neil Young record. “Feel Nothing Soon” is a slow moving bar closer and their ode to self-medication. A harmonica and a low-fi electric guitar accompany the country crooning on loneliness and bloody fights breaking out over a cheap shot of booze. “When the Backdrop Falls” is a rocker that lifts the single note guitar line from The Clash’s “Tommy Gun.” The vocal highlight is “Raton,” a slow melody backed by brush drumsticks that you should make out to, even by yourself.
The production is basic, but the vocals are right up front where they should be. I’ve never heard anyone’s hoarse cries sound more like Jawbreaker’s Blake Schwartzenbach than this guy. Now I’ve either jinxed these guys, or I’ve given them a whole new following via the Cult of Blake. And before those rad kids slag me on their Live Journal pages, Empty Houses is no 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, because it’s not trying to be. It’s a mature blend of country, rock and a small dash of punk. With no unnecessary guitar solos and drum fills, the songs are straight and to the point, and give reason to look to a full-length from these guys.