Wednesday, August 29, 2012

EP Review: She’s An Alarm

Title:  She’s An Alarm (Adeline Records, Amazon, iTunes)
Artist:  One Man Army (Facebook, MySpace, Last.fm, AllMusic, Wikipedia)

San Francisco's One Man Army makes their triumphant return with the She's An Alarm EP.  The band broke up in the mid-00s with their last release being a split album with Alkaline Trio.  During their initial run they released three outstanding full-length records over which the band developed a distinct take on punk rock that could appeal to fans of various different subgenres from pop punk to street punk to melodic hardcore.  The band's debut, Dead End Stories, was one of the definitive street punk albums of the late '90s.  On their sophomore album Last Word Spoken, the band's sound moved away from the narrow confines of street punk by bringing a greater pop sensibility to the table.  One Man Army's final full-length Rumors & Headlines, as well as BYO Split Series, Vol. 5 with Alkaline Trio, showed the band at the pinnacle of their power.  Those two final releases are not only great punk records, they are great rock 'n' roll records.  OMA found their groove and then called it a day.  Jack Dalrymple went on to play in Dead To Me for that band's first two releases (both of which are outstanding) and has been playing guitar in the Swingin' Utters since OMA broke up. 

She's An Alarm is quintessential One Man Army.  The songs are catchy, filled with hooks and Jack Dalrymple’s signature voice (both sonically and lyrically).  The EP reunites the line-up of Dalrymple on guitar/vocals, Heiko Schrepel on bass, and Brandon Polack on drums.  This is the line-up that toured for Dead End Stories (James Kotter played on the record) and played on Last Word Spoken.  The EP also reunites the band with Adeline Records, the label that released their first two albums.  "I.T.I.A.L.S." opens the record with a very Clash-meets-Dick Dale hook.  "Plastique" has a garage rock feel to the guitar while "Any Minute" has an '80s feel to not (kind of like The Briefs).  She's An Alarm closes out with "I Got Hung Up" a melodic number driven by a great guitar riff. 

When I first heard that One Man Army was getting back together I was elated.  I've been a huge fan of the band since I heard “Down the Block” on a 7 inch with three other bands.  I was immediately drawn to OMA's music and picked up their self-titled 7 inch EP and Dead End Stories.  I was lucky enough to see the band when they played Oklahoma City on the Dead End Stories tour (it was a show at the Music Dimensions location on Meridian) and interview them after the show.  All three guys were incredibly kind and gracious and great to talk to (despite the fact that I really wasn't prepared for the interview and sadly it never saw the light of day).  After they released Last Word Spoken I lost track of the band until picking up the split with Alkaline Trio, which I immediately fell in love with and then tracked down all three of their records again (during those intervening years I was still pretty heavy into oi and street punk so OMA's growth was a bit lost on me but when I finally got it, I really got it).  Sadly the band broke up shortly after the split was released and my hopes of seeing OMA live again or hearing more records was squashed.  When it was announced that Dalrymple was in Dead To Me I eagerly awaited their debut album, which I loved (and while Dead To Me has put out two great records since Jack left the band, neither was as good as Cuban Ballerina or the follow up EP Little Brother).  In fact, I think it is safe to say that Jack Dalrymple is one of my favorite voices in rock 'n' roll, not only for his fantastic song writing but for his distinctive singing.  Any project that he is involved in, I will check out and probably love.  With the release of She's An Alarm and the upcoming re-issues of Dead End Stories and Last Word Spoken, it appears that One Man Army is back in a big way and I couldn't be happier.

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