Review: Hot Rod Circuit – The Underground is a Dying Breed

It would appear as if Hot Rod Circuit were relatively spent after the release of 2004’s Reality’s Coming Through. The band seemed to lose the momentum gained from their Vagrant debut Sorry About Tomorrow– which not only gleamed at the band’s potent emotional side, but tapped into their resourceful brand of quality rock songwriting- falling away into comparative obscurity before seeking a renewal of spirits on (recently rejuvenated) label Immortal. And it seems their brief time away from the spotlight has earned them a refreshment of sorts, as The Underground is a Dying Breed reaches the potential sought on their previous effort. It’s the band’s most accomplished release, and while it certainly doesn’t equate to the resonance of Sorry About Tomorrow, it at least punctuates the band’s steadfastness in writing songs with a bit of depth and variance.

Songs “US Royalty” and “Six-Eight” are probably the album’s strongest efforts. Both tunes are firmly entrenched in slow-building guitar riffs and strong melodic choruses that remind listeners of “Cool For One Night” and “Night They Blew Up the Moon.” Tracks like “Stateside” and “Spit You Out” have a certain bounce to them; not so much soaking in the emotional imbalance of say, older tunes like “Radiation Suit,” but certainly the kind of song that may find itself listed somewhere as a Hot Water Music b-side. The album’s mid-tempo pace will please listeners who enjoy songs that tend to work towards its rewards- like in “45’s;” a beautifully strewn, heartache-sounding stroll through indie rock’s most serene locations. The album’s sole misstep perhaps, is its lack of a singular killer tune. It boasts 11 quality tracks that could use the aide of one, dare to say, accessible moneymaker. The songs tend to land somewhere in-between “getting there” and “very much almost there” in terms of their sheer quality.

The Underground is a Drying Breed is the kind of maturity and sound refinement Hot Rod Circuit have been searching for these past years. They hinted at it on Sorry About Tomorrow, but got lost trying to find it on Reality’s Coming Through. With this, they seem to have finally found their comfort in songwriting, and it proves to be more than just an enjoyable listen- it’s a keeper. (Immortal)