Carpenter - Law of the Land (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Law of the Land (2008)


One supposes that a band comprised of season veterans should automatically produce something of quality, but that isn't always the case. Maybe that's why I didn't immediately jump at the idea that former members of By a Thread, Daggermouth and Speaking of Heroes had banded together to form Vancouver "farmcore" act Carpenter.

Shit. If I knew how good Law of the Land would be at times, I probably could've cleared two and a half meters.

Carpenter's Law of the Land reminds me a lot of Attack in Black's lauded 2007 effort, Marriage. Like Attack in Black, Carpenter combine the emotion of great punk influences from the past 15 years with the bold, brash feel of Americana rock. The crux of Carpenter and their debut is that vocalist/guitarist Dan Sioui has an enthusiastic and unironic love for John Cougar Mellencamp's 1982 album, American Fool, the last album released by Cougar under that name. While Law of the Land doesn't immediately evoke any sort of comparisons to the Coug, there's a certain element underlying much of the album that gives the reference some footing. But what drives it even further is how earnest Sioui and company sound while lamenting the troubles of the independent Canadian farmer.

Quite a bit of emo(tional punk rock) inspiration is being clearly filtered through. It's hard not to hear Braid inspiring some of the guitars and gang vocal chants in opener "A Different Life," though when it's followed by a complementing brass section, you know the band isn't relying upon singular influences. The glorious chorus of "You Can't Keep a Good Man Down" rings with the clean heart of Epitaph-era Hot Water Music. The huge, jangled chorus of "Off the Road" is arena big, and could easily be receiving some radio play, college or otherwise. "Don't Go" musically bounces with Texas Is the Reason-style vigor. The second half isn't quite as memorable or engaging, but "Help Me Out" provides a welcome moment.

Law of the Land doesn't quite live up to the expectations laid by its first few tracks (or the songwriting on the aforementioned Marriage), but it's nonetheless an impressive, honest and feel-good release that's as solid a debut as they come.

You Can't Keep a Good Man Down
Off the Road