Hot Rod Circuit showcases the talents of Andy Jackson (vocals, rhythm guitar), Casey Prestwood (guitar), Joe Ballaro (bass, vocals) and Dan Duggins. While the group has always been made up of these four musicians, they haven't always been attached to their current label, Immortal Records. Before, they were signed under Vagrant Records and Triple Crown Record until their current album: The Underground is a Dying Breed.
The Alabama band has stayed relatively consistent in sound over the years as they produced album after album. But unfortunately, The Underground is a Dying Breed departs from their richer sound and leaves the listener feeling like they've just witnessed 11 tracks of déjà vu. That's right virtually every song on the album has identical vocals that lack the promise of variety that could be found on their earlier releases. What happened?
The instrumentation was great, although once again I felt as if I was hearing a bit of repetition by the middle of the CD. But, as odds would have it, there were a few songs that while following the albums formulaic concept of music turned out to be catchy and even downright enjoyable.
"Stateside" and "Cali" are the two tracks and both offer the most variation you'll find on Underground. "Stateside" has perhaps the best sampling of catchy guitar and complementary drumming to be found on the entire CD. The vocals, which sound the same for much of the album, offer no variation but rather find a better niche within the instrumental composition of the song. "Cali", towards the end of the album, has one of the better rhythms and the most interesting styles of any of the songs. With all the songs about California being produced, this one doesn't necessarily stand out but it doesn't get drowned out either.
The "Bonus Track" at the end gave me the most amusement due to its country western sound. I'm overjoyed that Hot Rod Circuit included this wild card on the album as it adds some life to the otherwise stale and dreary effort at an album. Since all that changed was the label, I hesitate (though fear I must suggest) to say that the label is in fact to blame? I hope Hot Rod Circuit hasn't lost their touch, but The Underground is a Dying Breed doesn't instill me with much confidence.
"The Underground is a Dying Breed" is on sale April 3, 2007 from Immortal.