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American Steel - Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts (Cover Artwork)

American Steel

American Steel: Dear Friends and Gentle HeartsDear Friends and Gentle Hearts (2009)
Fat Wreck Chords

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: RedScareRedScare
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Another very, very solid release from one of punk rock's most beloved bands. As always, this new record from American Steel offers up great lyrics, original melodies, sass, soul and the usual uplifting spirit we've come to expect from these Oakland punks. Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts is an overall.
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Another very, very solid release from one of punk rock's most beloved bands. As always, this new record from American Steel offers up great lyrics, original melodies, sass, soul and the usual uplifting spirit we've come to expect from these Oakland punks. Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts is an overall combination of latter-day American Steel, Crimson-era Alkaline Trio and their side project, Communique.

A dynamic full-length, it starts with a punchy intro that is reminiscent of *gulp* New Found Glory and finishes with a rather hilarious lullaby that is probably about someone we all know. And throughout the dozen songs of Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts, American Steel covers all things in between. They can still masterfully infuse dancey, Carribean influences with East Bay punk, and as opposed to their last record, Destroy Their Future, which touched on global politics and heavier issues, it's as though the band set out to make an album to play at BBQs and in hotel room parties. Hey, it works for me. I was a bit worried that guitarist Ryan Massey wasn't going to have any songs on this album until Track 6 came along. He always brings the thunder, and his dirty rock influences bring a nice change of pace once again.

Of course, there's some new things here from AmSteel too. In addition to Rory Henderson's already-undeniable melodies, it seems like they've incorporated some `60s vocal pop leanings: Pet Sounds, etc. And there's also some really well-placed parts involving some stadium rock call-and-response. It's fun stuff. Another surprising appearance on this latest album was the return of bassist John Peck on lead vocals for the song "Lights Out." It's one of the more upbeat and hard-hitting songs of the record and John's voice reminds me a bit of Jeff Pezzatti this time around. Lastly, drummer Scott Healy is stronger than ever on this latest LP and you can't help but wonder how much better Jagged Thoughts might have turned out had he been involved. Regardless, the band sounds more cohesive now than ever before and the proof is in these songs.

It's another fruitful outing for a band that continues to remain relevant in a time when that is so seemingly hard for their contemporaries and even the bands they subsequently influenced. It's also nice to have a new record that both my girlfriend and I enjoy. What I am trying to say here is...sigh...chicks really dig this shit, okay? Just sayin'. I recommend you start out with songs like "The Blood Gets Everywhere," "Where You Want to Be" and "Your Ass Ain't Laughing Now," which is an obvious retort to all those who doubted AmSteel's favorite team: the SF Giants.

Strongly recommended.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Filbunke (September 13, 2009)

The album is good but not great. And I really don't understand the comparison to Alkaline Trio's "Crimson". They're nothing alike.

someone-yeah (August 26, 2009)

I'm getting a sorta Bosstones-esque vibe from Lights Out. Def a good thing.

Great album.

Indecay (August 2, 2009)

This is okay but by no means outstanding. There are some really solid songs here and there but also a few that I skip.

Overall it's better than Destroy Their Future but doesn't get near their first two albums.

royalblewitup (July 24, 2009)

I dont comment much on here but I visit punknews almost daily and I wanted to thank pretty much everyone on here for introducing me to American Steel. I finally checked them out the other day and I think they might have a new fanboy.

Good day.

LinoleumMagazine (July 23, 2009)

Rogues March is their best album. All their other stuff is good too, but Rogues beats them all.

mikexdude (July 23, 2009)

Though they're not mutually exclusive, I always felt maria and shrapnel were more on the emotional side than "pop." Of course AS has poppy songs but overall I feel this is poppier and less rockin' and less heart wrenching.

TahoeJeff (July 23, 2009)

But what about Maria and Shrapnel? Poppy stuff!

mikexdude (July 23, 2009)

I get a poppy feel from this and I don't with JT

mikexdude (July 23, 2009)

Sorry, Jeff. This is disappointing to me. This is a damn fine record, I just feel the substance is a little lacking compared to Jagged Thoughts. It IS there, just not in the way I want.

Also, Jagged Thoughts is the perfect rock album to me.

cuapunkradio (July 23, 2009)

Toby and Justin,
Find a goddamn room. Score is for that HOJO encounter

TahoeJeff (July 23, 2009)

I just don't understand how you could love Jagged Thoughts and call this album a disappointment. I won't argue that Jagged Thoughts is a great record because it is. TO me, the new album is a lot more similar to Jagged Thoughts than DTF was! Fans of JT should be stoked!

Cox_Attack (July 23, 2009)

I love Jagged Thoughts and the Self Titled a lot. Guess I'm in the minority here. I also love the new album. My least favorite is actually Destroy Their Future

Score is for the new album

telegraphrocks (July 22, 2009)

1- Destroy Their Future
2- Jagged Thoughts (tie)
Dear Friends And Gentle Hearts (tie)
4- Rogue's March
5- American Steel

Score's for blowjobs...

toxic_toast (July 22, 2009)

If Jagged Thoughts was cut down to only these songs...

Shrapnel
New Religion
Rainy Day
Lonely All the Time
Maria
Two Crooks
I Don't Mind
Day to Night

...it could be the best album ever.

Dante3000 (July 22, 2009)

Jagged Thoughts is their best album? I've killed people for less.
-Dante

LawnDay (July 22, 2009)

Nah, Mike's absolutely right about that one. I haven't really been into the last two records at all.

tahoejeff (July 22, 2009)

mikexdude is wrong about so many things.

mikexdude (July 22, 2009)

Super catchy yet super disappointing.

Lacks the rock and emotion of Jagged Thoughts. Which is their best album: fact.

Redscare (July 22, 2009)

Also - the fact that their favorite team is the Giants when they are East Bay folks is shameful.

I know you need to curry favor with the fixed-gear, neckerchief crowd, but you yourself spent more time living in SF than the Least Bay. You're calling THEM out and you're not from EITHER place! On top of that, you don't even like sports.

Can we talk about the record now?

Nebraska (July 22, 2009)

fuck it, i just realized i'm going to be playing this record to my children someday... this album is perfect. time to finally listen to the solo jon snodgrass record.

R3vengeTherapy (July 22, 2009)

It's hard being an Athletics fan, I often forget they even exist, until I look at my 1990 World Series poster and remember the Reds beating their asses. Ah, memories.

This record was really good on the first spin, and I'm about to play it again. I'm sure this will be one of my faves this year.

toxic_toast (July 22, 2009)

As great as this album is, I don't think they could ever write a song as good as "Maria" or "Day to Night" again.

Fuzzy (July 22, 2009)

Also - the fact that their favorite team is the Giants when they are East Bay folks is shameful.

boxcar (July 22, 2009)

This was for sure my most anticipated release for 2009, as "Destroy..." was like ALWAYS on rotation ever since it came out.

Maybe my expectations were a bit too high, or it's because the record has a more relaxed & detailed feel to it...it's a solid record and it grows, but - as mentioned before - it doesn't blow me away like "Destroy...". However they manage to combine "Jagged Thoughts" Era, Communiqué and "Destroy..." pretty well...

Fuzzy (July 22, 2009)

If anyone thinks I hate Toby and/or Red Scare you've got another thing coming.
*cue Judas Priest*

*cue leather*

*cue another night at The Eagle*

mikeinflames (July 22, 2009)

Love this album. Easily my favourite of the year so far.

hayman (July 22, 2009)

Should be a good album. Looking forward to getting it in the next few days. Also got tix for the Bronx, Gallows and NOFX/Bad Religion/Pour Habit tours today so good times all round. By the way, whats the big deal with reviewing friends bands? I'm probably most critical of friends music.

telegraphrocks (July 22, 2009)

Oh, awesome! It fucked up my comment!

Fuck it.

telegraphrocks (July 22, 2009)

"but I don't think I have seen/spoken to anyone in AmSteel in two years."

telegraphrocks (July 22, 2009)

American Steel's NOT putting out records on Red Scare.

What's the fucking problem?

The day a Red Scare release gets reviewed by RedScare, I could see your point... but if that did happen and it was a "bad review", then it would probably be pretty goddamn awesome.

aarontoben (July 22, 2009)

i don't understand the redscare hate. toby is a nice dude and he wrote a good review. perhaps punknews should post a review from someone who absolutely hates amsteel so that we can have a post from both sides of the coin.

Bryne (July 21, 2009)

I think this record is way better than Destroy Their Future, and the change ups on it like "Finally Alone" and "Meals & Entertainment" are awesome.

kneel (July 21, 2009)

its no destroy their future, but its pretty good.

also, ryan, your wife likes american steel because they are fucking amazing and your wife is awesome.

Fuzzy (July 21, 2009)

THIS fuckin' guy again! I knew you were the one behind the Domino's pizza ads on here. I guess those elitist degrees you're after don't grown on trees, collegiate fancyboy.

I gotta pay off Penn somehow, kiddo! Learning how to wear a white hat and dock shoes don't come cheap. If the pizza lobby is gonna make it rain for me...

Oh, and I love how you tried to retroactively change Communique into a "side project."

Redscare (July 21, 2009)

Says the dude who emails every time he sees an add that chafes his bottom!

THIS fuckin' guy again! I knew you were the one behind the Domino's pizza ads on here. I guess those elitist degrees you're after don't grown on trees, collegiate fancyboy.

llmp (July 21, 2009)

To me, this album sounds as if they took the worst songs off of Destroy ("Razorblades", etc.) and made it into a whole album. Not that those songs are bad necessarily, but definately not near the rest of their work.

Maybe it'll grow on me though.

Fuzzy (July 21, 2009)

Oh quit being such a pussy all the time. Jesus Christ. I'm HARDLY "extremely close friends" with this band, just ask them, ha! A couple texts here and there, but I don't think I have seen/spoken to anyone in AmSteel in two years.

Says the dude who emails every time he sees an add that chafes his bottom!
Plus, I'm telling the PC Poleese on you for using female genitalia as a pejorative term.

baseball (July 21, 2009)

It doesn't come out of the gate as powerfully as Destroy Their Future, but this album is pretty awesome all the way through. I always thought Destroy Their Future lags a little bit after the first 6 or 7 tracks. I'd really have a hard time picking any of the last 3 albums over each other though.

So many great sing alongs on this album. Dare I say they out-Alkaline Trio Alkaline Trio on several of these songs. Baldsteve is going to punch me next time I see him probably.

Oh, and my wife loves American Steel. Funny how everyone's girlfriends/wives seem to like this band.

xshoutoutx (July 21, 2009)

Solid release as a whole, but I have to agree with the others and say this didn't grab me the same way Destroy Their Future did. Still a fucking rocking band though!

dlangl4 (July 21, 2009)

Unless you have reason to distrust his opinion, what difference does it make if he reviews this? I wouldn't be surprised at all if 4/5 is his genuine opinion, and if so, then why shouldn't he review it and score it as such?

If he was going to inflate the score, a 4/5 is hardly flattering. That would mean that his real opinion is that the score is really less than that, getting into the mediocre range. I find that hard to believe in this situation.

Dante3000 (July 21, 2009)

Also, music related, I found the less I listened to this album with the, "this is an American Steel album" mindset, the more I enjoyed it. I find it's probably more "Walk Into the Light" than "Rouges March" and that's fine. Fun music is fun music.
-Dante

Dante3000 (July 21, 2009)

The tour with the Lawrence Arms was less than two years ago.
-Dante

duffmancantbreatheohno (July 21, 2009)

I just picked this up today and I'm on my third spin right now. I totally love it.

Redscare (July 21, 2009)

I'm not sure why we publish reviews written by extremely close friends of the band.

Oh quit being such a pussy all the time. Jesus Christ. I'm HARDLY "extremely close friends" with this band, just ask them, ha! A couple texts here and there, but I don't think I have seen/spoken to anyone in AmSteel in two years.

danperrone (July 21, 2009)

this band has never been very good

of course RED SCARE would give it a good rating

you guys gotta do a better job screening these reviews

Fuzzy (July 21, 2009)

I'm not sure why we publish reviews written by extremely close friends of the band.

ShultzFAIL!

Dante3000 (July 21, 2009)

Oh hey, it's that guy:
I don't have any major qualms with the review but I think having a review by someone so closely associated with the band brings into question its objectivity.
-Dante

damo (July 21, 2009)

reserving judgement on this
had it for 2 days and not really had a good listen yet

android (July 21, 2009)

am I the only one who likes "finally alone" best?

my fav album this year so far.

mattramone (July 21, 2009)

Blatant editorializing.

colin (July 21, 2009)

it's hard to imagine a good review that starts with comparisons to crimson era alkaline trio.

telegraphrocks (July 21, 2009)

Pretty goddamn good, but I think Destroy Their Future is still their best.

I'd say this is equal to Jagged Thoughts, both of which are a bit better than Rogue's March, and all of which kick the shit out of the self-titled.

Yah me! I ranked some albums without using numbers or ">" things!

I'm a tool, I'm a tool, I'm a tool.

telegraphrocks (July 21, 2009)

Why didn't you review American Rubicon instead?

Problematiclogic (July 21, 2009)

Yeah this one is a grower, but it's ridiculously good. Might end up as my album of the year.

ashtraymonument (July 21, 2009)

a wonderful follow up to destroy their future

this is what alkaline trio should have gone for after good mourning

name (July 21, 2009)

"I hope it's more of an album that grows on you, but right now it's obvious to me that it lacks the immediate punch that came with Destroy Their Future.

Still some great tracks on their, but atm a good few just bore me."

sadly I have to agree. then again, I've had quite a few albums grow on me this year, so who knows.

mcflynnthm (July 21, 2009)

I cannot stop listening to this album. So incredibly solid. Strong contender for album of the year.

aarontoben (July 21, 2009)

album of the year. at least for me, it's no contest. saw these dudes 7 times on the larry arms tour back in 07. one of the most fun weeks of my life.

lights out is probably my favorite song. i wish jon would sing more.

szechwan_platypus (July 21, 2009)

"Score is for the line "Haters can blow us, they don't even know us" from "Your Ass Ain't Laughing Now.""

That same line was in the song "When the Bombs Go Off" by The New Trust, it came out a few years ago. Are they both paying homage to a line in some older song or is it just a common phrase? Anywho, I haven't gotten around to checking this album out yet. Sounds good from everything I've heard on here and from friends. On the to-do list.

kidgotham (July 21, 2009)

My score is for Fat Wreck Chords and not having the preordered record at my place on the release day. How long will I have to wait to hear this goddamn record?

Nebraska (July 21, 2009)

"It's also nice to have a new record that both my girlfriend and I enjoy. What I am trying to say here is...sigh...chicks really dig this shit, okay? Just sayin'." - hahaha. that's funny cuz I love this record and my girlfriend is NOT into it. bummer.

anyway, this is my favorite record of the year

Blackjaw_x (July 21, 2009)

Kinda disappointing after multiple listens, at least vocally and lyrically. The guitars are usually wonderful though. I'm still confused about my reception of it... I think it's a case of me recognizing that it's a well-thought-out record, but it just doesn't click with me.

Scarysmurf (July 21, 2009)

Loved it at first, it got semi old pretty quick, but still a very good listen.

abracadaver (July 21, 2009)

Score is for the line "Haters can blow us, they don't even know us" from "Your Ass Ain't Laughing Now." Awesome record.

mpc (July 21, 2009)

Excellent record... lots of good anthemic choruses. I still somewhat prefer Destroy Their Future but this is growing on me with every listen. Hopefully they tour out my way soon so I can hear these songs live. And Toby is right, my girlfriend who listens to very little punk loves this band.

codu (July 21, 2009)

I hope it's more of an album that grows on you, but right now it's obvious to me that it lacks the immediate punch that came with Destroy Their Future.

Still some great tracks on their, but atm a good few just bore me.

655321 (July 21, 2009)

Very excited to hear this! I will have more score in later today.

hello-rockview (July 21, 2009)

i need to go out and get this. American Steel is fucking amazing.

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