Drastic Andrew – Live Without Warning
Drastic Andrew are busy. Since 2011, the band has released three full length albums. Bands simply don’t do that these days. It’s easy to assume that, considering the scale of such a flood, there’s a lot of near and outright misses amongst these new songs. Such assumptions are mistaken. On their latest release, Live Without Warning, the band has assembled a stirring and stunning collection, a dozen songs in all, that percolate with considerable imagination and musical skill. This isn’t a band that simply coughs up old formulas with a few new twists – instead, Drastic Andrew’s influences are merely a jumping off point from which they launch their own startling material.
The band embraces a sinewy guitar sound for much of the album, but tracks like the title cut, “Every Minute of Today”, and “Pedestrian Love Song” reveal a band quite capable of tackling the delicate ballad, imbuing it with muscular musical textures, and never sacrificing either sensitivity or dramatic power. Drastic Andrew clearly understands songwriting dynamics. The softer material never wears its influences on its sleeve, but there are clear strands of the country, pop, and rock aesthetics running through each of the tracks. The production quality is quite high across the album, but it particularly stands out on the quieter tracks and helps Drastic Andrew achieve a full, robust sound clearly defined at all times.
The album’s rockier numbers cover an impressive stylistic base. The opener “Now” is deceptively playful thanks to its near note-perfect invocation of the mechanical rhythms of 80’s pop rock complete with roaring synthesizers in the song’s second half. Vocalist Andrew MacLauchlan possesses a wonderful voice with just the right balance of the odd and the highly musical. His delivery is a consistent highlight throughout the album, but on rockier numbers like the opener and later tracks like “Evolution”, he excels. The album takes a more serious, singer/songwriter-ly turn on tracks like “Pedestrian Love Song”, “Humble”, and the album’s final track, “End of the Line”.
The first of those songs opens as an acoustic piece but blossoms into a stately, well-constructed song with the full band in tow. The narrative and characterizations are quite strong and offers up evidence of the band’s rare gift for fusing compelling musical elements with worthwhile lyrical inventions. The second of the songs, “Humble”, stresses this strength even more with its deft writing over a deceptively simple musical backing. The album’s final track, “End of the Line”, might have turned out mawkish and sentimental in other’s hands, but Drastic Andrew’s unsparingly direct and sincere treatment redeems any potential for a maudlin ending.
Live Without Warning is an excellent album sure to please longtime Drastic Andrew fans while welcoming many new ones. There’s little need to ground yourself in the band’s first two albums before scooping up this one. Drastic Andrew requires no primer – immersing yourself in their new release is a self-contained experience that yields immediate rewards. You owe it to yourself, if you love rock and country, to check out this new release.
9 out of 10 stars.