Hot Rod Circuit - The Underground Is a Dying Breed (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Hot Rod Circuit

The Underground Is a Dying Breed (2007)


Hot Rod Circuit have been the perpetual underdogs of the underground for, oh, a decade now, and while they may believe it's a dying breed, they've certainly championed the likes of it for a good amount of time now. Part of it may be due to the inconsistencies that plagued their last album, 2004's Reality's Coming Through, but with The Underground Is a Dying Breed those problems seem to have been patched up a bit, even if it isn't likely to supercede the fan favorites of the band's discography circa 1998-2002.

The band's fifth full-length finds them exploring the same subtle twang that found birth on Reality, and while it's never overpowering it's easy to see why they'll soon be heading out with Limbeck to support the record. Every other track or so carries a down-home feel that harkens back to the band's sweet home Alabama roots and less the cross-bred emo rock of Long Island and the Midwest Hot Rod found so much songwriting success in on past work.

"Stateside" feels more like a Track 2 rather than an opener, if that means anything to you, but that doesn't prevent it from being one of Underground's strongest tracks, hands down. Casey Prestwood lays down plenty of said twang here while the band rears back for a bold, wonderfully executed chorus. Not many of Underground's songs mark such impressive territory, but Hot Rod certainly tries. "Vampire" surprisingly features a string section that's integrated seemlessly; "U.S. Royalty" sports supremely country guitar licks and another compelling chorus with a pleasing (no, seriously) cameo from the Starting Line's Kenny Vasoli; "Spit You Out" is comparatively aggressive and consequently refreshing; "Cali"'s chorus is great, but when Andy Jackson tries this snarling type of vocal á la Say Anything's Max Bemis it's just sort of cringeworthy.

The Underground Is a Dying Breed is undoubtedly an improvement for Hot Rod Circuit, but five full-lengths in it's tough to say if the band will ever record a Something to Write Home About, Through Being Cool or We Are the Only Friends We Have like their peers did eight or five years ago (though some will argue HRC already have). The band deserve major props for refraining from attempts to rewrite "Irish Car Bomb" or Sorry About Tomorrow, so if they're still in the game come the next record I'll likely be in the stands welcoming them.

Stream 4 songs on the band's Profile