[30 January 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Out of Place All the Time is an album of pastiche, one that recalls the work of Robert Pollard’s famous band, along the likes of pretty much any power rock band that’s come along in the past 30 or 40 years. There’s a jangly familiarity to most of the songs, and many of them clip by in a fast minute or two, with the odd track eclipsing the three minute mark. There’s nothing startling here, and some songs such as “Hard Kisses” feel a little bit on the silly side, but there’s an intangible infectiousness to much of the material that’s hard to deny. Lead singer Aaron Thedford has an uncanny resemblance to Too Much Joy’s Tim Quirk. In fact, you can listen to this album and pretty much spot the influence of previous bands of vintage, which is not necessarily a bad thing. The thing is, American Werewolf Academy just do a competent job of mining the past, and only that. There’s nothing on Out of Place All the Time that feels wholly original.
That said, there is much infectiousness that abounds. “I Was Released” could come across as a very Pollard-worthy track. The minute and forty-five second “This Thing” has a very ‘60s rock feeling to it that’s compelling. “Young. Wild. Free.” is another track that will have listeners reaching for Guided By Voices comparisons. “Miserable Living” is yet another song among many songs here that sound like it was a by-product of ‘80s alternative rock, as it has an R.E.M.-esque jangle to it. Overall, while Out of Place All the Time doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and seems a tad bit derivative, it’s fun stuff for those who can’t get enough of the bands from which this outfit gleefully strip-mines. True, the band never quite surpasses the influences that it draws upon, but that would have been a hard task from the outset to accomplish. In the end, what we get with Out of Place All the Time is just a rollicking and rocking good time. Nothing more and nothing less. That’s probably the best that we could ask for from such a band in a less than 30 minute package, and even if this isn’t the second coming of Bee Thousand or Alien Lanes, there’s still enough here to champion.