American Speedway - A Bigger Boat (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

American Speedway

A Bigger Boat (2011)


American Speedway knows what they want to do and what they want to do is rock and they do it. Keeping one foot in classic hard rock and the other in classic punk, American Speedway shoots straight for a Motörhead vibe on A Bigger Boat, and to their credit, they nail the speed and energy that is essential in this type of music.

Wasting no time with overblown intros, the group kicks off their album with a simple, punkified riff and then immediately tears into the song proper. Michael Speedway, who handles vocals and guitar, sings in a whiskey-soaked style, giving him a sound similar to a younger Lemmy. Because they sing about cars, and women, and booze, the style fits.

But, while a lot of bar punk/hard rock bands go for the grizzled, scratchy voice, American Speedway pulls the entire package together with their energy. While their riffs are based in blues territory, instead of slowing down or trying to "feel the groove," the band kicks up the energy to an almost, but not quite, east coast hardcore level, and keeps the tunes rocking along. Although the music is fast, it swings and bends, making it just sloppy enough to feel raw but not under-rehearsed.

At under a half-hour, the band knows that brevity is their asset. Instead of repeating the same concept over and over, they take the fundamental design of early bar punk and play variations on it with each track. Still, while they nail the aggressive biker punk sound, they seem to tap dance around the same issues that Motörhead has had for some 30 years. Their songs are awesome, but could some branching out flesh out their sound and break new ground?

Since the advent of hardcore, many punk bands shift towards the extreme, winding up as either being blustering, screaming messes or just a guy and acoustic guitar. On A Bigger Boat , American Speedway deftly navigate that sweet spot between intensity and rhythm, and cut an album that just rocks, man.