“Bullets and Bruises”


Outlook Music

4 stars

Hard work and determination originally paid off for Autovein. Then the good vibes temporarily halted.

The modern rock quartet, like so many of their peers, found themselves without a label home after Columbia Records gave them the boot. Problem was, the dismissal happened before they could release their debut CD, “Bullets and Bruises.”

After recording it in early 2005, it finally gets its proper due two years later through Outlook Music. Fortunately, it hasn’t aged at all. In fact, it rocks with such ferocity and contains so much spirit it’s easy to hear how the band was able to endure such bullshit without giving up.

The music on “Bullets and Bruises” has an immediacy a la Toadies, but done with a harder rock aesthetic and with more of a modern sheen. Some credit goes to producer Garth Richardson, who’s helped amplify the power behind acts like Helmet and Rage Against the Machine. Indeed, the drums here sound as if they’re walloped with sticks christened in thunder.

Lead-off singles “Bullet in an Angel” and “Save Me” are the kind of raw and raucous indie rock you’ve heard many times, yet sound oh so good blasting out of your speakers. Tracks like “Out of My Skin” demonstrate a killer formula Autovein could probably do in their sleep — melodic power chords they know when to unleash and when to withdraw.

Even slower numbers like “Hard as It Is” hit with the intensity of a good mid-tempo Foo Fighters workout. Singer Bryan Roach helps their cause there by utilizing one of the best voices in the current rock scene. That’s due largely because he doesn’t sound whiny, a trait that has mysteriously infected many of today’s young male singers.

The only misstep may be including strings on “All That I Wanted” and “Dreamer Dies,” rendering the latter especially maudlin. Save such forced pathos for washed-up bands whose creative wells have run dry.

Led by a jaggedly soulful guitar hook, the eight-and-a-half minute closer, “Head High,” succinctly combines everything Autovein has heretofore shown it can do with skill and confidence. They’re one of the first promising acts to emerge in 2007, two years too late.



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