Carpenter - Law of the Land
Record Label: Smallman Records
Release Date: June 3, 2008
Sure, the Myspace address alone should serve as more of a guiding light than any review ever could (go ahead and read it, I’ll wait) but humor me. Carpenter’s blend of Americana-folk and the modern, Rise Against school of punk rock may not come out entirely similar to John Cougar’s 1980’s radio staples, but if they did we wouldn’t be listening now would we?
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly it is about these songs that makes them so memorable. There’s just a great deal of heart in the songwriting; these aren’t tracks tossed together to meet a deadline, these are expressive and emotional (not emo) guitar rock pieces that stand out from your run-of-the-mill Rise Against/Strike Anywhere/Alexisonfire-tributing punk bandwagoneers.
Dan Sioui’s voice is the number one thing that connects him to that pseudo-hardcore punk scene. He sticks to that scratchy sort of melodic vocal that’s yelled, but tunefully. A whole lot of the character in these songs comes from that voice and the vocal melodies that guide each and every track.
The super-random harmonica solo in “Off the Road” serves to validate the earnest acoustic guitar strumming throughout the track (and throughout the album). It’s these random folky touches that make Law of the Land unique in the 2008 punk catalogue, and that make it a definite come-back-to record. There are other bands doing the punk-n-roll thing, but few do it so accurately.
“Face the Rain” has got to be one of the most satisfying alternative closers in recent memory, uniting an Alice in Chains style chord progression with really youthful, post-punk checking vocals. Holding off the drums until the very end – the “Stairway to Heaven” formula – pretty much guarantees an epic finish because it focuses on the build-up. Carpenter has got it down to a science.
Whether you need a soundtrack for swinging your hammer or discussing the pros and cons (mostly pros) of unions, Law of the Land is a great album, even if the lyrics seem a little bit preachy at times. Not quite a collection of little ditties about Jack and Diane (you know... two American kids growing up in the heartland), it's an eclectic mix of styles from the past 25 years or so that looks to the past and future at the same time.