Black Cat John Brown
The strangely comfortable title track kicks off this album. The reptitive fashion of the song works in its advantage. It gives the song its catchiness and with very smart percussion and haunting vocals and some clever effects, this song draws in the listener quite well. No wonder it got such a YouTube hit.
Don’t Beat This Dog
The alternative rocker Don’t Beat This Dog is up next. With sounds that remind me of Blur and Ash at times with maybe some Peter, Björn & John thrown in, this song is pretty good, musically. It, again, has that strangely comfortable feel to it, and a good forward drive.
Stanley vs. Hannah
The introduction of keys in Stanley vs. Hannah contrasts in a pretty cool way with the distinguished vocals. The keys & guitar strumming provide the basis for this song and give it a nice folk/rock ring all throughout the song. ART creates a very alternative sound because they’re not afraid to incorporate different things in their music.
Kiss Me Bar
Kiss Me Bar is an interesting song. One of the catchiest songs on the album, and I hear myself think: ‘radio song!’ The rhythm reminds me of 60s/70s bands from the UK (and maybe also a bit of Beach Boys kinda sound). This is all tucked in a cool alternative pop song with a refreshing sound.
The Northern Territory
Probably the best song on the album, The Northern Territory, has a real indie sound, something that could easily go on the radio in between Kaiser Chiefs & Snow Patrol, and it would stil stand strong. The groovy vocals and the supertight instrumentals are of high quality and make this song serious competition for the forementioned bands and others in the genre.
My Heart‘s just not working for me. It might be a bit experimental of nature, but not enough to be tagged with experimental really, and it’s not really all that catchy, and I miss the energy or passion. It might be there, but it’s hard to hear it, it doesn’t spat off the song. The best part of the song are the Dylan-like vocals.
This is a pretty good song. Reminds me of fellow Dutch band Little Things That Kill, and maybe I hear some Elbow influences here and there. But ART really does a good job of making this song their own. It’s not their best song, but it’s definitely a pretty good song.
On The Beach
Too chaotic. The song, in itself, is pretty clever, but the end product doesn’t work. Some parts get a little better, but the band was trying to hard to make something special out of this song, which got in the way of the likeability of the song.
Lee J. Cobb Is Screaming A Lot
Alamo Race Track is right back where they were with Lee J. Cobb.., it’s catchy, has that indie sound and is just a very decent alternative rock song.
Breaker, Breaker 1-2
The spheric Breaker, Breaker 1-2 is an interesting change of pace on this album. The song slowly grows on you if you give it a chance. I don’t think it will ever be one of my favorites to hear live, but on the album, it works remarkably well. The interaction between vocals & music is quite well done.
The Open Sea
The Open Sea is an okay song. I can’t really say much more of it. It has an interesting sound and it’s a decent song, but it doesn’t really make me jump of enthusiasm either. Maybe it could be adapted for a movie or commercial.
The album closer, Chocolate Years, is one of my personal favorites. The melancholic, sometimes dreary sound and the slow build-up, combined with vocals that are perfect for this song give this song a lot of emotion and class. It might be a bit repetitive, but cause of the excellent build up this isn’t a bad thing. Good end to this solid album.
Where the Radiohead-influenced debut album was an okay listen but didn’t sparkle the imagination too much, “BCJB” is a big step forward for Alamo Race Track. Some of the songs are plain catchy and the sophistication in the songwriting is combined with a sense of energy and passion, and sometimes intimacy. The band has come together much better and ART now presents their music complete, marketable and mature.