by Mike DaRonco
It was fairly common for an early Small Brown Bike live show to include friendly heckles of “you need more Hot Water Music or Jawbreaker in the monitors.” Given that its use of raspy vocal shouts and driven personal pop are obvious nods to those aforementioned groundbreakers, the Bike has held its own style of added heaviness and energy that’s somewhere between hardcore and emo, though the “e” word is deemed more of an insult these days.
What’s impressive about Small Brown Bike’s second album is that the individuals still click as musicians after all these years. Three of the members played together even before their pop-punk days of L.E.S.C. Although the melodic roots remained intact on their debut album Our Own Wars, a harsher tone is added this time.
Added aggression is also accompanied by unpredictable chord progressions and a hoarse, dual-vocal structure that prevent the Bike from falling into a comparable category. The drawbacks are that this formula is used throughout most of the 11 tracks, and that some songs on Dead Reckoning tend to sound alike. But as these Marshall natives continue to grow as songwriters, up-and-coming bands might soon hear heckles such as “more Small Brown Bike in the monitors.”
E-mail Mike DaRonco at firstname.lastname@example.org.