Middle Class Rut - No Name No Color (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Middle Class Rut

No Name No Color (2010)

Bright Antenna

My first experience with Sacramento's Middle Class Rut was back in 2009, when they were opening Social Distortion's 30th anniversary tour. My first thought was, "Wow, these guys are not what I expected for a Social Distortion opener," and my second thought was, "Wow, these guys are great!" I couldn't believe that much noise was coming from only two people. After their performance, I picked up their debut EP, 25 Years, at their merch table. It was a fine EP, but felt a little lacking after their energetic live performance.

Flash-forward a year and some change to their Bright Antenna debut full-length, last year's No Name No Color. The musical chemistry and creativity on display here between vocalist/guitarist Zack Lopez and drummer Sean Stockham brings to mind other dynamic duos such as the White Stripes and Death from Above 1979. Lopez layers multiple guitar loops on top of one another–à la Minus the Bear–to create the auditory illusion of a full band while crooning in a voice that can be slightly reminiscent of Jane's Addiction's Perry Farrell at times. Stockham keeps the beat, whether that means standard rock fills or something more chaotic and punk rock. He's pretty versatile. With all of these influences, it would be easy for No Name No Color to become a directionless trainwreck, but they find a way to make it work while forging their way toward a sound of their own.

Standouts include opener "Busy Being Born" and first single "New Low", but there's not a bad track in the bunch...until you make it to closing track "Cornbred". The acoustic guitars and almost hip-hop drum beats are an interesting turn of events after the 11 electrified tracks that precede it, but the "proud to be a redneck" lyrics are really off-putting and don't make much sense in the context of the album.

No Name No Color isn't for everybody, but it's an interesting listen to say the least. Middle Class Rut are a force to be reckoned with in the live arena, but they haven't captured that energy on record...yet. They're a young band with tons of potential, and if you're in need of a break from your diet of standard-issue, gruff pop-punk, you could do a lot worse than No Name No Color.