Sound — 8
Driving home late one night after a jam-session a good distance from my house a few days ago and finding myself without a good CD, I found myself having to submit to some very rare radio time. Suddenly, a distinctive percussion line rolls through the speakers. Simple. One bar, four beats; but it got my attention. What I heard for the next four minutes and seventeen seconds was one of the most promising new bands I've heard on the radio in quite some time. The band was Middle Class Rut, and the song was "New Low". If you care to imagine a modern-day Jane's Addiction crossed with the catchy, melodic, riff-driven, yet vocally impressive pop/punk group of today, you may actually be getting pretty close. That's not, however, to call Middle Class Rut something mainstream. Anyone who loves to stray from the beaten path through greatly under-appreciated bands like Queens of the Stone Age or Audioslave will find much to love in Middle Class Rut's first (hopefully in a string of many) full-length release.
Lyrics — 9
From the mellow, softer crooning of the opener "Busy Bein' Born" and the great lead single "New Low", through the rancorous howling of "USA" and "Lifelong Dayshift", to the somewhat subdued closer "Cornbred", this album just works. Both members sport great voices, each one perfectly worked into the most appropriate part of the best songs. Zack's powerful yells and Sean's pitch-perfect singing combine beautifully in one of the best albums I've heard this past year.
Overall Impression — 9
While a modernized Jane's Addiction may seem strange (or, possibly, unnecessary), the title given by a number of fans in pages of comments on the lead single's YouTube page doesn't quite explain quite what all the album has to offer. Some of my personal favorite tracks on the album are: "New Low" "Lifelong Dayshift" "Alive or Dead" "Dead End" There's not much to dislike here, but I certainly hope that future records will explore new territory musically. The formula they've forged works quite well, but I'm just a sucker for variety; bands like A7x whose every album could very well be a different band based on sound. However, as a first album, Middle Class Rut have proven themselves quite capable of becoming the next Cage the Elephant, as I certainly haven't been so impressed by a modern rock band since them, until now.