We're taking a long hard listen to Underground Rock, an album by Small Town Junkies released in May last year.
Small Town Junkies are a busy band, with a huge discography of 16 releases under their belts on their bandcamp page.
Whilst Small Town Junkies gives the idea it's a big band, it's actually the fruits of one man's labour, Mr David Stump from Ohio. He has obviously called on a few pals to fill in various parts on this album. If you held a gun to his head he'd describe his music as post grunge rock - but as with any bands these days, best thing is to give it a listen and see what you think rather than fob it off due to being unsure about the genre definitions!
Underground Rock is actually the first studio album for the band following the release of the Small Town Junkies EP. Before we even listened to the album, we were obviously drawn to the album art. Is that Microsoft Paint? Does that even still exist? Well... apparently. Looking back across STJ's discography it seems to be a running theme with a very minimalist artwork appearing on many of their releases. I feel like the quality of the recording on this EP could have really benefited from a bit more work on the artwork, but hey, art is a personal preference! Definitely one I might have skipped in a playlist thinking it was a small teenage band from the artwork rather than a polished album by an established artist.
The album comprises 8 tracks and two radio-friendly versions of 23 and underground rock which definitely rings of the post-grungey tones mentioned above, with clear inspirations from the likes of Pearl Jam and Nirvana.
Addicted is a great intro track that leads you slow-paced into the rest of the album. David has a great grizzly vocal and the recording quality of the instruments is great - just enough reverb and the all-too-easily-messed-up drum levels really make for good surround sound listening.
Be Strong has a bit of a waltz-swing feel to it, similar to some of the slower tracks you'd hear on a Seether album, whilst Hell or High Water actually feels a bit more upbeat that I'd put my neck out to say reminds us a bit of a Weezer track more than anything too grungey!
Rock Bottom, Time for a Change and 23 follow, still leveraging the reverby grunge feel, leading up to Two to Tango. Wanted to call this one out as it's probably our favourite track on the album. Feels like it could be a TV theme tune or at least soundtrack worthy. Nice lyric work on here too.
Finally following that is the album's title track Undergound Rock. This one is definitely reminiscent of those Seether/Staind/Three Days Grace type of track. This track wouldn't feel out of place on any sort of alternative rock scuzz compilation, and there's definitely some fans out there who'll love the whole album.
The only downside we could see is perhaps the grunge-train has sailed for a lot of people and they're happy to carry on listening to their old Nirvana albums rather than try and check out some new music. Perhaps on the next album Small Town Junkies can add an extra layer to their music to not only play awesome grunge music, but bring it into the modern era.
All in all, a really nice listen, and best enjoyed blaring out of a sound system in the living room with a beer!
Check out Small Town Junkies on Facebook and Bandcamp, and stream the Underground Rock album below