Saturday, September 3, 2011

Review: Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room - Hurricane Season

For the majority of his magnificent and extensive career with Alkaline Trio, Dan Andriano has been providing soundtracks for the lonely and angst filled teens and adults alike across the world. As the bassist and secondary singer/writer of the group, he fueled the fire that Matt Skiba ignited, giving the group a backbone and a necessary variance in its style. While Skiba was a fan of a direct punch to the gut with his writing and musicianship, Andriano chose to be a more brooding and atmospheric performer. His songs were gloomy and honest, but not overwhelmingly so. Beneath the dreary aesthetic that he presented himself with, there was still a light of integrity that kept his writing from becoming monotonous and stereotypical. With this background, it should come with no surprise that when he eventually released his solo work nearly two years in the making, that it should not only match his previous work, but in some instances one-up it. With the fresh and appropriate moniker of Dan Andriano in the Emergency Room, he releases his emotionally demanding LP, Hurricane Season, which pulls no punches and conceals no secrets of what’s been running through Andriano’s ever intriguing mind. 

Fittingly, the album is a mixed bag of both poignant and affecting tracks, but with a proper dose of innervating and inspiring numbers to give the album a pleasant balance. Opening track ‘It’s Gonna Rain All Day’ details a man lost and broken, a familiar character for Andriano’s catalogue, but the next track immediately booms in with an exciting mesh of pounding drums and traditional acoustic guitar, giving a more confident and determined mindset, though the writing suggests different. It’s this contrast between the catchy hooks and entertaining rhythmic patterns and the brooding and sometimes downright depressing lyricism that makes Hurricane Season an album worth immersing yourself in. 

The journey through the mind of a man lost and battered in life is something Andriano can pull off with an impressive clarity. Since the early days of Alkaline Trio he’s been one of the most understated writers and performers in the punk scene, but perhaps that is where he performs best. His writing is genuine, but catchy; his music simple, but appropriate all the same. The basic plucks and strums of the trusty acoustic on ‘Say, Say, Say’ accentuate the slowly progressing intensive tone of the song and helps pin that atmosphere that he creates so easily. He aims to connect with his audience by pulling them into his world, and through such simple means he accomplishes it with a grand performance. 

Though the weaker tracks of the record (‘This Light’ and ‘The Last Day we Ever Closed our Eyes’) may detract slightly from the overall impact of the experience, the strong songs absorb the audience so easily that the faults are merely a blemish on the peripherals. ‘From This Oil Can’ concludes the record with one final tug at your heart, and leaves it with a sense of completion that is unfortunately absent on a great number of modern records. Hurricane Season is not the peak of perfection for Andriano, but fans will undoubtedly eat it up, and rightfully so.

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