Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One Man Army Sounds An Alarm

As the first EP since the band broke up in 2005, She's An Alarm doesn't sound anything like the San Francisco-based punk band One Man Army. But that might not be a bad thing after seven years.

In fact, the difference is stark enough that some people will wonder if the once throaty Jack Dalrymple is part of the lineup. It is all Dalrymple, reshaped after his experiences in other bands like Dead To Me, Swingin' Utters, Re-volts, and U.S. Bombs.

This time out his vocals are crisp, clean, and more melodic than the haughty aggression of a younger One Man Army. The same can be said for two other familiar faces. 

Brandon Pollack and Heiko Schrepel are both back. Pollack was part of the original One Man Army lineup on drums and Schrepel, who had replaced James Kotter, played bass until the breakup in 2005. While the sound is completely different, the kinship between them is all intact.

She's An Alarm - EP packs in more garage rock than punk. 

The release is a three-fold win for anyone who followed the band before. As part of their new deal with Adeline Records, the homecoming included a re-release of their first two albums as well as the new EP.

The first track to pick up off the 4-track She's An Alarm is I.T.I.A.L.S. Dalrymple comes in more tense than strained, delivering the vocals more effortlessly than he has ever before in his career. Some might even wonder where he has been hiding his pipes given he had been mostly sticking to guitar and bass since the split.

I.T.I.A.L.S. does a solid job putting down the new sound with breaking guitars and catchy builds. It reminds me that they were once considered the hardest working band of their time, married to punk but always able to diversify their sound as it suited them. It's always been that way for Dalrymple.

Look up any past interview, and you'll find the same answers. All he has ever wanted to do is write good songs, play good shows, and get better at doing the only thing he does — play music. The only thing that changes is who he plays with to do it. 

One the second track, Plastique, there is more distort turned up on Dalrymple voice. The song is intentionally simpler and more straightforward. The driving beat remains the same throughout. It's not the best song on the EP, but there are some interesting vocal drop downs.

Any Minute has a bit of a surf vibe, probably one of the most garage rock casual of the bunch. The boy meets girl storyline has a feel good swagger to it. I Got Hung Up is more meandering and thematic, with an additively moody solo tucked inside the middle of it. It's my second favorite track on the EP.

It might take awhile before the She's An Alarm catches more attention. News about the initial break was fairly limited to a handful of sites, with most breaking the news ahead of reviews. Part of the buzz was related to the limited physical release of the 7-inch with 1,000 neon green and neon pink records. The other reason the EP will have a slow start is that there are a surprising number of people who think this is a new band.

She's An Alarm By One Man Army Sounds 8.2 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Nobody can do better on a 4-track EP this week than One Man Army. Everything about it rocks, and the fact that they went back to Adeline Records just makes it better. One Man Army, after all, was the first band to release a record on the label started by Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong. Several bands have since said that they were influenced by One Man Army.

The EP was mastered by Mass Giorgini (Rise Against, Alkaline Trio, Screeching Weasel). It comes out in conjunction with the quiet re-release of Last Word Spoken (2000) and Dead End Stories (1998) on Amazon. You can pick up She's An Alarm and both albums on iTunes as well. You can also keep an eye out for tour dates on Facebook (no news yet). 
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