Jana Sotzko delivers her first solo project with mixed results.
Somewhere between melodic indie rock and folk music we find Dropout Patrol. Like the notes caught between the keys on a piano, the sound can either bring joy or disgust. The bands self titled album delivers both, but the bright spots show great potential.
Opening the album is “Other People’s Problems.” The song gets straight to the point, with lyrics such as “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on,” we have to be careful we are not listening to Ani Difrancos “Dilate.” The similarities don’t end with the vulgarities. Jana Sotzko’s voice is soft and meek, which make the hard hitting lyrics more powerful.
With “The Great Hesitation,” the tone of the album establishes itself with the effects-free guitar work that provides the framework for Dropout Patrols sound. The music is raw, and somewhat uneven, but it works well, sounding almost like a live track.
By the time “Irrelevant Variables” comes around, the trademark sound is bordering on repetitive. The redemption comes with the harmonies that are reminiscent of The Moldy Peaches, just without the annoying guitar and tape fuzz. The lyrics are a highlight here as well.
Following a somewhat forgettable “Taken Hostage by the Scene” is the gem of the first side, “A Song for Four A.M.” It stands alone as the most dramatic, with the most emotion, both lyrically and musically. The band shows growth on the track, although the guitars repetitive chords does leave more to be desired. More is delivered with an attempt to showcase the band but the instrumental untitled sixth track ends prematurely, just as they find their groove.
“It May Be That We Are Passing through Difficult Landscapes” is one hell of a title for one hell of a song. All the missing tempos from the first side seemed to fall into this track. The new melodies, song structure, and vocal risks re commit us to the album. It is a refreshing change! The positives continue with “Find It at the Bottom of the Lake.” The vocals have the most confidence stating firmly “I have allot to learn and you have allot to give.” The changes keep on coming with the most diverse dynamics of any song on the album.
The dark and melodic “Make Up Your Mind,” stands as our favorite track of the album. The simplistic song structure, the haunting vocals make an imprint on the mind of the listener that cannot be easily erased. The only drawback is that the heavy power chords are just begging for some distortion.
With the final track, “Airports,” we hear what the band is really capable of. Someone has finally found the distortion peddles. The vocal harmonies are made use of with great results and all the elements that were lacking with the previous tracks pour out, just too little too late.
“Dropout Patrol” is a good attempt, with great potential, but has points where it falls short by not capitalizing on its strengths. The second side is completely different than the first. Perhaps this was intentional, but a different order of songs may have made the album a better listening experience. It is definitely worth a listen.
Exotic Fever continues their support of vinyl by releasing the LP with plenty of extras; including a full download card and postcards with song lyrics you can send to all your friends!
You can pick up the album for your local independent record store or the Exotic Fever Website.