Angel City Outcasts - Deadrose Junction (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Angel City Outcasts

Deadrose Junction (2006)

Sailor's Grave

I'm sure on paper somewhere the Angel City Outcasts are classified as a street punk band, and that's such a disservice. Put any two songs on Deadrose Junction behind you and it's quite clear that this act has the skill to write massive pop songs. Even more than on Let It Ride there's a hugely anthemic quality to these tracks, and despite all the usual punk comparisons, this falls somewhere between good power-pop and, dare I say, hair metal in terms of sheer addictive sing-alongs. I'm certainly not the right person to name names from those genres, but Cheap Trick keeps coming to mind (not to mention that the ACOs covered Kiss on their prior record). Of course, the Outcasts are likely more comfortable being listed alongside Social Distortion and the Dropkick Murphys, but their joyful guitar riffing and gigantic choruses say otherwise.

Deadrose Junction has the good sense to slow down at times, and that only helps make the breakneck speed of barnburners like "Rev It Up, Turn It Loose" more striking. The instrumental "Bleeding Heart Saloon" that leads into the galloping "Horns'n'Halos" is a nice bit of sequencing from a band that's often too content to rush though anthem after anthem. Both songs wouldn't be out of place on the soundtrack to a particularly insane spaghetti western. The bulk of the ACO's material remains mid-to-fast tempo melodic punk tunes. They have a habit of over-constructing their songs a bit, and the multiple refrains, solos and extended intros pull most tracks to around the four-minute mark. To their credit, the nearly hour-long record doesn't feel nearly that long.

One still gets the sense that the Angel City Outcasts are having too much fun to fit into the typical punk mold. There's just very little angst here, and the band's few forays into politics and social commentary (like the media-critical "Cutthroat") still manage to wrap up with some glorious guitar solo and a huge call-and-response chorus. The band sounds far more comfortable on their shameless fluff material anyways, and it's hard to deny how much fun songs like "Where I Belong" are. Alex Brugge's proved he can carry the punk anthem, so to hear him tackle such obvious pop songs as "Ten After Midnight" and "No One Alone" is quite cool.

It almost feels like the Angel City Outcasts have taken their characteristic punk sound as far as it can go. After two records proving they can do the street anthem better than anyone, I'm increasingly drawn to their outright pop material. The Outcasts are going to need to toy with the formula on their next full-length if they want to keep from becoming stagnant.