Saturday, August 19, at the Gypsy Tea Room's "Tea Room"
Dead American Radio, the third album by L.A. quartet Left Alone, seems like your standard punk rehash, complete with two members sporting mohawks bigger than Gene Simmons' tongue and ego. But first impressions are decidedly misleading as Left Alone's brand of ska/pop/punk is a refreshing and uncommon noise, a rejection of the constricting limits of any specific genre. Songs such as "The Sinner" and "Drunk Again" may revel in the depravity and clichéd hard-core lockstep of SoCal punk, but the hard-hitting ska of "City to City" and the twangy roots of "Waiting for You" show a band adept at channeling both Desmond Dekker and Social Distortion. Lead singer Elvis Cortez shows exceptional range and restraint, able to handle the romantic duet "La Pregunta" as easily as the shout-along chorus of "Bastard Son" or the hilarious cornpone of "I Hate Emo." Rarely does a punk band so authentically embrace other styles and sounds as fruitfully as Left Alone. If they can move beyond the pissed-off protocol, these leather youngsters stand at the brink of something genuinely special.