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Music Reviews

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Fat Possum
Hot Rod Circuit
Sorry About Tomorrow
Vagrant Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Hot Rod Circuit has been around since 1997, getting more popular with each passing year. This popularity seemed to culminate when they were signed to Vagrant Records, a label on which the band fits quite well with their brand of pop-rock mixed with a bit a punk (think Alkaline Trio, Saves the Day, Audio Learning Center). Sorry About Tomorrow is their first full length out on Vagrant, an album fans got a taste of with Another Year on The Streets: Volume 2, in which Hot Rod Circuit put forth both "The Pharmacist" (a standout on both the Vagrant Compilation and Sorry About Tomorrow) and "Radiation Suit."

The album opens with "The Pharmacist." As previously mentioned, the song is a standout, without a doubt the best on Sorry About Tomorrow, by far. Obviously, this kind of Vagrant-pop has been done before, many, many times (much of Vagrant's lineup plays the same kind of stuff, either to a better (Saves the Day) or worse (Get Up Kids) result. But this particular song is really good for something so commonly done, and making a great song out of a tired idea is always a difficult feat.

The opening of "Radiation Suit," is nearly as catchy as "The Pharmacist," and is, in fact, probably the second best song on Sorry About Tomorrow. Vocals are energetic, guitars are driving, and the melody is danceable. Though it isn't as good comparatively, it is still a decent song.

"Cool For One Night," however, is not as catchy, though it is obvious there was quite an effort to make it be. It is my least favorite on the album, the one that really stands out as being not so great, most likely because of the lyrics that lean towards cliché and annoying. Lyrics like "to the boy with the short attention span/ the classes that they put him in/ knows just where he stands… to the drugs that compensate for brains/ you'll never hear them complain/ cause they're too fucked up to understand decisions made" don't fit well with the song. The song's sound is the type that really needs good lyrics to work, because the vocals are what would make or break the song, and those simply don't cut it.

The other songs on Sorry About Tomorrow are sub-par compared to "The Pharmacist," unfortunately (see "Knees"). With the kind of music they're playing, Hot Rod Circuit need to make really great music to be a great band, unless, of course, they are judging whether they are great or not by the ever-growing Get Up Kids-loving crowd or people hoping to exploit the ever-growing Get Up Kids-loving crowd. I am sure Hot Rod Circuit are probably capable of being good, though, for any band that can make a good single can probably make a good album.

Reviewed by Jeanette Samyn
A contributing writer for LAS and a former music director WBAR at Barnard College.

See other reviews by Jeanette Samyn



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