Bred from the blurred line where alternative rock was thriving to its slow demise — as The Guardian once said 12 years after, “indie’s rock slow and painful death” — comes a reemergence of this sound that may speak other wise for the alternative genre’s appeal. Hailing from Kansas City, The UK’s latest EP may be the rekindling we all needed.
Led by singer/guitarist, Noah Bartelt, guitarist/vocalist, Scott Combs, bassist, Katelyn Miles, and drummer/vocalist, Tarquin Kellough, The UK’s spirited melodies charge loudly towards the season’s colder coat. Formed in 2010, where notable traces of their sound can be linked back almost a decade ago, but only actively playing as a band since 2014, American Way Of Death is a driven 5-track compilation. Almost whispering to all the kids that didn’t make it a decade ago and are still finding themselves, American Way Of Death is felt with a similar angst without the whininess that comes from growing pains.
Opening with probably their strongest track on the EP, elementally speaking, “Why Don’t You Go” is the introduction the quartet needs. Ominous harmonizing spaces out enough time for an unexpected snare hit before retreating into a pleasantly ridden, melodic ride. Bartelt’s vocals are limber as they bend to each note, skidding across guitar lines, and oozing onto the next. A variety of different tempo-switches are built into the track, being led by Bartlet’s matter-of-fact tone that causes one to assume the assertiveness that is felt instrumentally. The cohesiveness of breaks and back-up vocals are praised with the track’s glossy exterior; tight transitions from each member that make this track work.
Then you have a track such as “The Poison Squad” that is built from a punk mentality, electrically charged, upbeat, and conscious. Its in your face attitude and extremely fetching guitar and bass lines parade over Bartelt’s reverb tone for a D.I.Y. aesthetic. “Wake Up” also features a like minded attitude which instills a carefree feeling. Giddy rhythms inspire movement, deeper guitar solos are heard, overall drifting more into a very clean production of garage rock.
The EP carries another strongly crafted track, similarly built to its opener titled “Other Team.” The first half of the track can easily be a mainstream single for its punchy and ear pleasing riffs and straight to the point woes: “you never loved me, oh baby you play for the other team.” As the track makes its way past the tight drumming, which stands out on this track, comes a harmonizing break and change of theme; now realizing one may have “wasted time on you.” This track surely builds into something more and is filled with glorious compositions that must be appreciated after each listen.
The EP’s title track, condensed to “AWOD” somewhat falls short in comparison with other tracks heard. Lyrically noting “I’m a damaged man” and drifting into American’s solution found in a pill, the mundane cycles heard are relatable but become drowned in the sound. Seems there was never a marriage between notion and sound, yet the track doesn’t destroy the EP’s overall finesse.
American Way Of Death is felt through a variety of different structures, playful jabs, and sincerity in tone that it is almost refreshing to relive this sound. The UK’s similar punk subculture characteristics add the additional punch to this EP and I look forward to what 2019 brings the band through their evolution.