The Sorely Trying Days - Survival Mode (Cover Artwork)

The Sorely Trying Days

Survival Mode (2009)

Useless World

Across America, in the abandoned factories and gas stations that were once the backbone of small-town economies, there is an eerie sound that one can't quite make out. Perhaps, with the use of some E.V.P. playback, that sound will become clearer to us. And when we can finally hear it, it will probably sound a lot like the Sorely Trying Days.

The Sorely Trying Days are a three-piece band from Kokomo, Indiana, a town that has made international news for being one of the hardest-hit cities in the current economic recession. This Kokomo origin story may sound unappealing to some, but trust me, STDs would not be the great band they are if Kokomo didn't suck as much as it does.

Survival Mode kicks off with "Everybody's Bitch," which is one of the best punk rock songs to come out of Indiana since the brief glory days of the Zero Boys. The song showcases everything that is the STD sound: catchy, rocking guitar parts, smashing drums and pleasantly depressing lyrics. They mark their small-town roots in the chorus when they lament "I'm everybody's bitch / please don't do me like that." It truly is a perfect song.

The album reaches new levels, however, with the defiant "About the Good Times." This is where the band touch the most on their hometown and the recession, but without succumbing to topical references. They never once mention "recession," "Kokomo" or "Obama," but when the song ends, an angry shout says "I always wonder where the good times went / are they coming back? / am I going to live to see them again?", it's clear that these young men and their music are a direct product of the times. The last line of the song, interestingly enough, is a defiant self-answering "I don't wanna live to see them again!" This is Recession Rock and it is glorious.

Musically, the track "Failing Engines" is the most impressive. The (soon-to-be) signature STD guitar-work is taken up a notch here and the bass work really stands out. And, staying true to their Kokomo theme, "Failing Engines" is an anthem of depression and desolation. "I can hear those failing engines / it's a painful realization / that the end is really what it seems."

Even the instrumental tracks, "Red Turned Green" and "Destroyed in Seconds" work as energetic mood pieces about Kokomo. As with the rest of the album, one can hear streaks of past greats in the music: the creativity of Fugazi, the stoner sensibility of Clutch and the brutality of Black Flag.

So, if you ever get a chance to listen to this album, don't go into it expecting a stoner record or a punk record or a hardcore record, just sit back and listen to the beautiful byproduct of the worst desolation in America.