Bet it took you awhile, huh? In the last few years, the concept of regionalism and local scenes has begun to disappear in music, replaced by affiliations with genres and labels. People used to describe a band as being "from Brooklyn" or "from Seattle;" now they describe them as "emo" or being "on Load Records." While this has all sorts of implications for venues and musical communities, it could be a godsend for a band like the Alternate Routes.
The Routes are from Bridgeport, Conn. There is absolutely nothing cool about Connecticut in general, and there is especially nothing cool about Bridgeport. I've been there, and it's a big ghetto in the middle of the suburbs. Not to be a snob, but really, it's kind of a wasteland. In the old days, the Alternate Routes would have had to pack up and move to New York or Boston to make it big; these days, they just put up a MySpace and hit the road.
The five-piece has just released a new album, entitled Good and Reckless and True. It sounds oddly Midwestern for an East Coast act -- all sweeping guitars and big drums and epic vocals. They're very accessible, and they have that nice lighter-in-the-air, sing-along quality that many bands seem to have moved away from. For a clue about the lyrics, check out the opening track "Ordinary." Front man Tim Warren sings, "When you die will you be surrounded by friends? Will they pray for a heaven out loud, a hope that somehow they will see you again?" This is a band that is untouched by cynicism. They're going for sincere power-ballads that will drive you to weep, or hope, or something.
And you know, it's kind of sweet and refreshing. I've been listening to the new LCD Soundsystem record nonstop, and I love it, but all the lyrics are dark and snarky and about being "North American Scum." All the interviews I read with the Alternate Routes had them sounding chipper and hopeful; all the interviews I read with other bands I like have them ranting about politics and hipsters and how much the world sucks. There is a place for cynicism and discussions of foreign policy, but there is also a place for a band that takes an alternate route and believes honestly in rock 'n' roll salvation.
The Alternate Routes at the Blvd. on Saturday, May 5, at 9 pm. $5. Call 455-7826.