Last Chance Runaround.

First three adjectives that come to mind when listening to this album:

Three favorite songs on album:
Lonely More
Cast A Shadow
Two of Us

Alter Idem by Last Chance Runaround is a rock album seasoned with bits of traditional folk and pop. The duo, Scott Roberts and Sue Volkert, have created a solid foundation of an album with its guitar driven tracks and surprisingly beautiful harp-guitar duets.

Tracks like "Lonely More," are vaguely reminiscent of artists like Wilco, minus their (Wilco's, that is) overextended moodiness. "Lonely More" is bittersweet yet full and vibrant.

The other two songs that ended up being amongst my favorites are covers—"Two of Us" and "Cast A Shadow"—the latter of which showcases Sue's impressive vintage pop style vocals. This track has a similar feel to the dreamy 60's female surf rock that is currently being made by musicians like Best Coast and Vivian Girls.

Alter Idem is an entertaining and straightforward record. The members of Last Chance Runaround definitely have talent, vocals, and technical abilities. The only problem that Alter Idem runs up against is that its tracks sound pretty similar throughout. It's consistent but maybe a little too much at times.

Q&A: (With Scott Roberts of Last Chance Runaround)
1. Who or what is your musical inspiration?
Generally speaking, when I was a little kid, I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan and I KNEW then that singing songs and playing guitar (preferably in front of screaming girls!) would be my destiny. I also listened to a lot of traditional folk music as a kid, then later to British Invasion (especially The Kinks) and then new wave and "college-rock" stuff in the '80s (Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello, XTC, The Jam, REM, etc.). Since I've been in bands myself, my main goal is always to write the perfect 3-minute pop song--but with meaning and depth ; ). 

2. How long has LCR been together?
Sue and I started playing together in late 2005 and we formed a friendship and kind of spiritual bond over our mutual love for a New Jersey jangle-pop band from the '80s called Winter Hours. We kind of started with the idea that we just wanted to keep their music alive and then went on to start creating our own music from there. In fact our name comes from the lyric in one of their songs, "Broken Little Man" (which we play live fairly regularly).

3. What is the theme/motivation behind this album?
I didn't really have a theme in mind but there seems to be a natural thread in lots of my songs about loss and how to deal with it. Not always the easiest stuff to dance to ; ).

4. What's the best venue you've ever played?
Form me personally it was The Variety Playhouse in Atlanta--I opened for Iris DeMent in 1994 during my solo singer/songwriter phase (1992--2005). For LCR, our most memorable gig was playing at an art gallery in Maplewood, New Jersey as part of the release party for the Winter Hours tribute CD "A Few Uneven Rhymes." We contributed the song "At a Turtle's Pace" (a different version of which is also on "Alter Idem") and we got to play that song and a couple of others with Winter Hours' founder Michael Carlucci, a great guy and a guitar hero of mine.

5. Favorite music format? Compact disc, vinyl, or mp3?
I'd have to say CD because I like the tangibility of it over an mp3 (a friend of mine once pointed out that you can't have an artist autograph an mp3!), but I grew up with vinyl so I'll always have a soft spot for that and I like hearing about its impending comeback for this generation.

6. Favorite album of the moment?
I've loved Liz Phair's "Somebody's Miracle" this entire summer, and went to see Laura Veirs last week and have been listening a lot to her "July Flame" album.

7. What's next for LCR?
We're playing in Orlando again next week (we played there in March) with our pals The BellTowers and we're still playing here as often as we can to try to coerce people to fall in love with us. We'd like to travel to all the cities our friends live in and we hope to release another EP next spring.

Album design:
Unfortunately, the album design feels dated. The fonts aren't particularly incredible nor is the parchment paper type overlay. Given the quality of the music, the album design feels sub-par.

Next up:
José González, In Our Nature (2007)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review, JJ (and for undertaking this ambitious year-long project of reviewing an album every week!). You always do a well-written analysis and a fair and balanced (no relation intended to the "journalists" at Fox News) account of the music and graphics on everything you review, my record included. I just wanted to add here that in case someone wanted to seek out the CD after reading your kind words, go to www.lastchancerunaround.com for ordering info.
    Thanks again, JJ!!