Hot Rod Circuit regains some composure

By By Jesse Peterson

By Jesse Peterson

Hot Rod CircuitThe Underground is a Dying BreedImmortal RecordsThree-and-a-half out of five stars

After Hot Rod Circuit released Reality Is Coming Through in 2004, the reality of its situation was apparent–the album stunk. Music critics slammed the album, and it looked like things weren’t going to get better.

Three years later, after finagling a new recording contract and figuring it had nothing to lose, Hot Rod Circuit released The Underground is a Dying Breed and, by golly, it’s good.

I guess all that depression and failure can be liberating.

Overtly catchy, The Underground is a Dying Breed harbors so many sing-a-longs that are instantly relatable and memorable, it’s inevitable that anyone who hazards a listen will succumb to their contagiousness. It’s going to happen; listening to this record is like wandering around the 38th parallel in Korea or having unprotected sex in Lesotho. You will be screwed in all scenarios (Note: Getting blown up by a mine or contracting AIDS is much worse than having a Hot Rod Circuit song stuck in one’s brain).

Ample pedal steel guitars meld succinctly with indie dynamics to add a slightly Southern twinge to the band’s heartfelt tunes. Songs on The Underground is a Dying Breed are not slow, but exhibit simple, almost lazy rock at its finest with guitar solos and precise picking techniques that crop up out of nowhere.

Hot Rod Circuit also has not lost its punk edge. Songs reflect a sense of yearning for something better than the current situation, and with such an attitude, each track is infused with more spunk than it would be otherwise. Granted, the album doesn’t serve a whole lot of variation in moods, as opposed to instrumentation, so it slows down a bit toward the end. Good thing it clocks in at about 37 minutes.

Hot Rod Circuit will be in town on May 12. Hopefully, with their newfound creativity and expertise, fans will return with others to enjoy the sounds of renewal and liberation.