Let Me Run - Meet Me at the Bottom
Record Label: XOXO Records
Release Date: January 20, 2009
This is a review 2 years in the making. You see, it takes restraint and a little bit of foresight to understand the difference between okay, good and great. There is nothing more deceiving than a wonderful first impression. Even worse for a critic is a wonderful first song. “The Count of Monte Fisto” bulldozes in with husky voices and likeable punk melodies. Throw in some soothing backing vocals and a chorus that more than a few nowhere-to-turn punks would love to tattoo on their shoulders and you’ve got yourself a hit. “Boom,” I thought, “another winner!” But oh no. Oh no no no. Meet Me at the Bottom rarely delivers after this song’s triumphant gang vocal section and not-quite breakdown. Such a shame, and perhaps a younger Blake would've let this three minutes of joy cloud my overall judgment. However, much like the guys in Let Me Run, I’ve lived and learned. I can see the finish line, and it’s not pretty.
“We Bring The Booze” is the album’s last shining moment, and that’s only because it sounds exactly like the opener. Guitars noodle into the 80’s while an even catchier gang chorus spits out rally cries like, “This used to be a town / made up of brothers / but goddamnit they don’t know what they’ve left.” Basically, Meet Me at the Bottom is an ode to time spent in and around New Brunswick, New Jersey, which is a town that should sound familiar due to a one-band renaissance led by The Gaslight Anthem. But where that band succeeds, this one fails. There is little diversity throughout, and other than lamentations focused on dying kidneys, we hear no smart insights a la TGA’s Fallon (who also lends some backing vocals). “Here’s My Destroyer” is Let Me Run’s attempt at mellow, but other than scant acoustic guitar and slightly slower tempos, this is nothing memorable (“Make it loud / Make it loud / Make it motherf**king loud!”). More like Let Me Sigh, right? (You're fired - Editor.)
True, this is meant to be harder-edged than The Gaslight Anthem, but that doesn’t mean I should accept such redundancies. On the rare occasion something new is tried, like the off-key, thunder-like grumbling in “Oh My Levees” or the Northstar-for-Punks vocalization on “I Don’t Stomp, I Battle”, the listener is left feeling more like a tortured lab rat than a fired-up fan. Travis Omilian’s gruffness is sincere; please believe that. It’s what the noises end up becoming that stink so bad: “She loathed me like the weather / Like a cold and steady storm.” The whole of Meet Me at the Bottom plays out like a mixture of all the better punk albums from the last few years, except there’s no defining style. Some songs are Hot Water Music, some are Polar Bear Club, some are The Gaslight Anthem, but very few are Let Me Run. 2007 is but a stone’s throw in the past, so Let Me Run’s relative newness may have something to do with this lack of distinction. However, being signed is good for these guys' development on many levels. Let Me Run is defined by their personal experiences, and once they have some more collective memories under their studded belts, things should be looking way up.
Recommended If You Like: The Gaslight Anthem, Hot Water Music, cheese fries, Polar Bear Club, fried cheese
I saw these guys a couple of nights ago with The Bouncing Souls and Gaslight Anthem. Solid performance from them in terms of sounding tight and having some good music. I am disappointed by the review, not because of what you said, rather, the lack of good songs they have on the album. I guess when you only play for 25 minutes you can showcase your really good songs and leave the rest for people to listen to on the record.
Its not a great album by any means, but in the age of 'fashion punk' it was a breath of fresh air, partiuclarly the first half.
Let It Ride's biggest problem is that Meet Me At The Bottom is not a complete album. While it starts out strong and offers some variety, the back half could basically be one song played over and over. But the truth is many bands have this same problem with their freshman releases, and its more to do with band maturity and experience, then a lack of talent.
For my money I thought MMATB offered a pretty good first impression. It was not Sink or Swim good, but its also not really fair to compare every punk/ameriana/rock-roll band that comes out NJ to GLA's standards.