Saturday, January 16, 2010
The Roman Line - "Morning Portraits" review:
Toronto's The Roman Line were a band featured on the Merman Records' 4-way Sea Creatures split .
"Morning Portraits" has a very consistent feel and not much dynamic outside of its punk/alt/country influences. The band's MySpace page says they are influenced by Screeching Weasel, Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, The Queers, Tom Waits, The Misfits and others. It's an interesting mix. The result of all those influences is a lot of gang vocals and a pretty straight-forward rock and roll band. Their influences show through a lot. For example, "Worst Case Ontario" is a real electrified country lick. It's got all the standards - modesty, references to nature, nostalgia and alcohol.
"Talbot & Inkerman" is more on the Tom Waits side of the proverbial tracks. It's a piano-led song with hand claps as the main percussion. Gang vocals for the chorus on top of it all makes it sound like somewhat of a drinking song. But it's only 1:26, the shortest song on the album (unless you count the intro, which isn't a song). The piano pokes its head out here and there throughout the album.
I got a real Social Distortion-type feel from this. The band's lead singer almost seems to emulate Mike Ness's voice.
"No Vacancy" is a song that kind of hates on their hometown of Toronto. In the end, he laughs and says, "I'm just playing Toronto, you know I love you." I don't really get it, as I've never been to Toronto. But apparently there are a lot of hipsters there. Man, if this band comes to Chicago, hopefully they get a gig in Logan Square or Wicker Park. Hipster-hating song part two will be written. All in all, I kinda dug this album. There's a lot going on and it's pretty original for still somehow managing to fit into the pop-punk scene.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
TOP TRACK: "Dawn After the Wreck" (Merman Records/2010)