Old American Junk – The Midnight Underground (Independent)
Old American Junk is a Madison, Wisconsin-based four-piece with a history – of sorts – that dates back to their late-90s college days - though they didn’t officially become a band until 2009. They released their debut album “Home” in 2012, and have now followed it with their new EP, “The Midnight Underground”, a five-track collection recorded over a three-year period, from the winter 2009 to the summer of 2012. I think it’s fair to say Old American Junk don’t like to rush things.
Musically, they play a form of progressive Americana that isn’t afraid to turn up the guitars and embrace a host of alternative influences, from contemporary head-down indie to classic late ‘70s art-punk groups like Devo and Television. They’re strong songwriters with a good ear for both hooks and melody, and lead vocalist Shane Hardwicke sings with a distinctive edge.
As with all EPs, there’s little room for filler or half-formed ideas, and Old American Junk don’t disappoint. They begin with the atmospheric “Makeshift Love” – its insistent, repetitious lyricism attaches itself to a particularly receptive part of the brain; I may have to start charging it rent. “Not Underground” shows another side to the group, where the darting guitars make a powerful statement, and “Miracle Town” returns them to rootsier territory, and there’s something of Pete Townshend’s solo material in the way the song is structured. They finish with the harmonica propelled “Parts of Truth”, and its haunting Morricone-esque tone makes for a memorable conclusion.