Dan Sartain – Too Tough To Live (One Little Indian)

January 23, 2012 by  

Dan Sartain has only been with One Little Indian for a short time now, but it’s been enough time to make an impact. An impact that packs a punch in little more than one and a half minutes but enough to wake you up from whatever self-involved daydream it was that you were having.

Before his first release on OLI in 2009, Sartain had released several independent albums out of his hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, but with this year’s ‘Too Tough To Live’ set to make even more inroads into the more profitable end of indie label dividends, Sartain’s brand of rockabilly Americana has hit the trend in full flow.

Like the stand out surfgaze (did I just coin that?) bands of 2011, through to The Vaccines, the darlings of the alternative scene in the last 12 months, it all seems to fit and tie itself in quite nicely.

A shame really, that is has taken until now as Sartain has been doing this kind of thing for years, performing and releasing material that evokes noise and sound that could make even the most reserved of hippies believe that The Ramones had just rented the basement below them. It could almost feel like bandwagon jumping for those who are less familiar with this artist, who was once touring support for The White Stripes.

Alas, the one thing that always makes Sartain’s music stand out could be the musical weakness here, as the 13-track album just short of 19 minutes in length is so immediate, so punchy and so brash that you kind of forget it. Don’t get me wrong it’s catchy and all. Opening track ‘Nam Vet’ and a plethora of others use these very short, piercing riffs to great effect. But you could stop the album almost anywhere and not be able to remember a single stand out moment. That’s not a criticism of the method he uses, but to me simply signals that it is just not his best effort to date.

One of the plus sides to the running time however, is that you’ll have time to listen to it twice without even noticing the clock move, and it is most definitely worth at least a few listens at least.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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