Alt Tuesday: Alkaline Trio

It actually slightly worries me that it has taken me this long to post about Alkaline Trio on this blog. They are definitely one of the most important bands I have started listening to in the last couple of years. Alkaline Trio is a Chicago-based punk band that has been around since the ’90s and has been developing their sound, experimenting with post-punk inspired albums (such as Crimson and Agony and Irony). Yet they have never strayed too far from their roots, which is something I respect in an artist. Their release From Here To Infirmary is where there is a clear bridge between kids who wanted to play punk songs and adults who are serious songwriters.

The album opens with fan favorite “Private Eye,” which is a heavy, dark song that features lead guitarist/co-lead vocalist Matt Skiba at his best. His brooding lyrics can easily scare listeners away, as he is constantly “doing fucked up shit” and “looking for corpses.” But if you look past all the darkness, you can hear some pretty catchy melodies and an overall genuine emotion behind his lyrics. For example, the next track on the album, “Mr. Chainsaw,” is about the pains and struggles of growing up.

Skiba’s song writing style contrasts nicely with bassist/co-lead vocalist Dan Andriano (who happens to be a personal hero of mine, so please ignore the boy-crush nature of the rest of this post). Andriano writes extremely heartfelt lyrics that are obviously coming from a place of pain. “Take Lots With Alcohol” is a confused rambling. He bellows “I have no desire to see through my own eyes anymore.” Andriano has this incredible ability to display a very masculine voice that allows his lyricism to be dark without sounding whiney. I find myself believing his problems are genuine rather than made up for the sake of writing a sad song to make emo girls buy their album.

Other stand out tracks are the lead single, “Stupid Kid” and “Armageddon.” Alkaline Trio writes good hooks that have hard punk music behind them. Perhaps not the most accessible sound, but they are good songwriters who write about subject matter that is important to them, such as the death of friends or the personal issues they try to hash out via alcohol and self-medication.

My favorite track on the album is the final track, “Crawl.” The song tells the story of Andriano’s guilt after a one night stand with a girl who has a boyfriend. The thoughtful lyricism and raw emotion that is present is a brave showing from Andriano. A link to a live performance of the song is below:

The reason I love that performance is the same reason that I love Alkaline Trio. The punk music matters. And all the emotions are real. And let’s face it: We could always use some more real music.

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