Hot Rod Circuit - Been There, Smoked That (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Hot Rod Circuit

Been There, Smoked That (2002)

Triple Crown

Before Hot Rod Circuit were known worldwide, before Hot Rod Circuit were part of the star-studded Vagrant roster, and basically before Hot Rod Circuit were popular, they put out a self-titled EP back in the summer of 1999. I know because they gave me one when I booked them a show on their first ever tour that same summer. The CD, limited to merely 2000 copies, captured the band's intensity and inherent catchiness in it's scant five tracks. The band, in my opinion, has yet to top this EP, so I'm happy to say that it's been re-released as "Been There Smoked That" along with a ton of other previously unavailable material.

First up on this retrospective is the aforementioned EP. The songs all sound as good as I remembered them, but the only downside is the recording quality is somewhat lacking. I hoped that they would've polished these up a bit for the re-release, but I guess they wanted to keep that raw sound they had back then. Either way, all five songs make me yearn for 1999 again, with their gritty emo-punk hooks firmly retrenched in my mind.

Next up on the CD are five songs the band recorded as Antidote, a band predating Hot Rod Circuit by a few months. Songs like "Sadie Hawkins" fall more into the pop punk category, but you can catch shades of HRC in tracks like "Master Control Program." Quite a neat peek into the band's history.

The CD then spits out three live acoustic songs in a row, recorded during the band's 2000 tour with the New Amsterdams. The material carries over surprisingly well into an acoustic setting, and makes me wish that the tour would've played somewhere close to me.

The CD finishes off with two cover songs. The first is the group's cover of Fudge's "Patty Hearst Machine Gun" off their split CD with This Year's Model. I have never heard the original, but this cover sounds pretty sloppy to me. The other cover is a cover of AC/DC's "Sin City" off the "I Love Metal" compilation, and this also sounds pretty sloppy. I have a feeling that when this band is in the studio late at night, surrounded by weed and beer, these cover songs are what comes out.

All in all, this CD is a pretty comprehensive document of the band's early years. My only serious gripe is the absolutely terrible artwork. Had I seen this in a store I would have never picked it up had I not known it was Hot Rod Circuit. But in the band's defense, they've always had questionable album artwork [pre-Vagrant, at least] - anyone remember the riding lawnmower on the cover of one of their albums? Exactly.

To sum up all this rambling in one sentence - if you're a fan of the band I highly recommend this to you to complete your collection.

Richard Simmons