Angel Miners & The Lightning Riders

AWOLNATION

Better Noise Records, 2020

http://www.awolnationmusic.com

REVIEW BY: Pete Crigler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 05/14/2020

AWOLNATION are back with their fourth record and fortunately, if you didn’t care for the first single, “The Best,” there’s plenty of great stuff here to listen to. “The Best” is one of those songs that tries to sound like “Sail,” but doesn’t come off as well. It’s destined to be used in commercials for sporting events and all over ESPN, whenever those events can begin again. But the rest of the album is quite a surprise and ends up delivering some of the more exciting alt rock of the year.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Leader Aaron Bruno hasn’t really changed the band’s formula, and it works for the most part. The vocals on “Slam (Angel Miners)” really highlight the track’s scope from spry indie rock to downtempo electronica buzz. I sincerely hope that “Mayday! Fiesta Fever” becomes an eventual single. It’s a great track, upbeat, full of fiery vocals, and great for blasting out of the speakers.

This record has got some of Bruno’s best vocal work since their sophomore disc, which is quite a great thing to hear in 2020 when seemingly every other vocalist isn’t going for the throat anymore and just wants to croon as smoothly as possible. This album gives Bruno a chance to do both and do them very well. “California Halo Blue” is a perfect example of this cross pollination with the crooning taking center stage, showcasing how great a vocalist Bruno really is. The rock aspects of the group crop up throughout the disc, most notably on “Battered, Black & Blue (Hole In My Heart)” which is a personal favorite. It features light verses and heavy choruses with some great work from Isaac Carpenter on drums. It’s a really good track.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the one dud on the record, “Pacific Coast Highway In The Movies,” which features Rivers Cuomo and just sinks the record like a stone. The song has B-side written all over it and is best skipped. Luckily, the album’s last track “I’m A Wreck” redeems the previous lackluster tracks and is a slow burner that is the perfect way to end this record.

In this day and age where alternative rock as we once knew it is essentially dead and buried by keyboards, it’s nice to see a band that can blend both worlds together and make something so appealing and interesting. This is probably the best collection of songs this band has put together, and what better time to enjoy it?

Rating: B

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