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A Small Victory - El Camino

  by Alex Halls

published: 18 / 4 / 2005



A Small Victory - El Camino
Label: Lobster Records
Format: CD

intro

Debut full-length album from Atlanta-based punks, A Small Victory, which unfortunately after a particulary strong start begins to quickly lose its way


I have been to gigs that start in such a way that I have stood in awe; my jaw-dropped to terra firma as the early notes ring out across the venue. Far be it from a physical disability that might otherwise leave my chin as a mere remnant on my face but the start to A Small Victory’s 'El Camino' has just that very same effect on me, so much so that it has warranted replay ever since its arrival, albeit restricted to those rooms that have been thoughtfully carpeted for such an occasion. California-based Lobster Records appears to be releasing a fair amount at the moment, including quality debuts from previously unknown bands: 'El Camino' fits into that frame as it stands as A Small Victory’s full-length unveiling, after 'The Pieces We Keep EP' (2003). From the small town of Buford, North-east of Atlanta, Georgia; Mark Walker (vocals); Luke Bareis (guitar); Danny Song (guitar); John Addington (bass); and Zack Bareis (drums) give us ten tracks which can generally be defined as moderately catchy American punk rock. It is always important to start strongly on an album but it should, ideally, be good throughout. 'El Camino' falls outside this desired format as it becomes a little tiring halfway through, after the aforementioned start in the amazing 'Limousines And Cheap Cigars' and the classy 'Hell-bent On Heaven’s Smile'. There are still good sections later on but, on the whole, it forlornly falls into the ‘it has been done before’ category. Yet there is a sudden, welcome return to form in penultimate track 'Farewell Capeside', which gives the impression that an electro-acoustic guitar has joined the fray. 'Farewell Capeside' then moves into the previously experienced heavier guitaring for a short while, just to remind the listener that it is a form of punk rock that they are listening to. As a whole A Small Victory’s debut is successful in catching the listener’s attention as it is magnetic in part. To say that it is the weakest album to have come from the Lobster label recently should not undermine this release in the slightest, given the strength of the others present. On one hand it is a long time since one song got such a grip of me, as did 'Limousines And Cheap Cigars'. On the other hand, it is a shame that this type of songwriting doesn’t continue in all the songs, although realistically the level achieved would be unsustainable. A general pattern of unoriginality does establish itself after the fine, early tracks but as first-born it ranks as a good album, even if it lacks a gritty determination that would otherwise have changed the criticised features of 'El Camino' for the better.



Track Listing:-
1 Limousines And Cheap Cigars
2 Hellbent On Heaven's Smile
3 Blindman's Holiday
4 Otis
5 Stabbing Tree
6 Sirens Over Sinclare
7 Amy Never Misses
8 Random Celebration
9 Farewell Capeside
10 James Dean B-Side



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