Left Alone - Left Alone
Record Label: Hellcat Records
Release Date: April 7th, 2009
When someone is told to think about great, classic, Southern Californian pop-punk bands, chances are they'll think of bands like Green Day, The Offspring, NOFX, Rancid, or Bad Religion. Granted, I'm no exception, but another band I think about is Left Alone. Left Alone have been around since 1996 and hail from Wilmington, California. They're led by singer/guitar player Elvis Cortez. In the past they've released numerous EPs and albums, but this self-titled release is their newest.
Now, given that this release is self titled, it is meant to perform what most successful self titled albums do: sum up the band's sound, message, and appeal, and it's very successful in doing this. After a couple of listens, I feel like I know exactly what Left Alone are all about, both musically and thematically. Musically they're quite a medley of countless (great) genres and musical conventions. First and foremost, there's a fair bit of pop-punk style in Left Alone's music. The bass lines are loud and strong, and the guitars are distorted and fast with a few simple, melodic solos. The melodies are all catchy, and the vocals are a tad bit raw and abrasive but there are a number of simple, yet effective harmonies. Overall, the punk aspect of their music is very reminiscent of Green Day.
Of course, as I mentioned, there are nods to other genres of music in Left Alone's album. There's a bit of ska influence to be found, for one. Songs like "Sad Story," "Interlude," "Bombs Away," and most prominently "Low Fidelity" and "Something for Nothing" all have some degree of jangly, skanking guitars (although they aren't the only ones). However, I was disappointed that there wasn't more ska. Additionally, the music has some country influence as well. While, as I will address later, the country influence is strongest in the lyrics, there are some country music conventions present too. The bass lines show a lot of movement, a contrast to the usual straight thumping of most other pop punk bands, and there are plenty of punchy guitar riffs that sound as if they belong in a country song, but fit nicely in their tunes of origin, of course.
Lyrically, the themes are closest to country music. There are tons of songs about drinking, heartbreak, and sorrow. It seems as if every song on the album addresses some sort of heartbreak. Just look at titles like "Spiked with Pain," "Sad Story," and "3 Bottles of Wine." This lyrical monotony helps to lead into my primary complaint with this album: it drags on a little bit. As an album, it needs vary a bit more. It would have made a very nice EP, but it just isn't deep enough as an album, though it could be a lot worse, since it is fairly short (35:24). All in all, it's a worthwhile listen in the car or with some friends, but it seems like Left Alone can do better than this release in the future (and hopefully will). To end on a good note, however, it does satisfy the need that comes with all self-titled albums. After listening to Left Alone, it's obvious what the band is all about, and I, for one, like it.