Getting busted masturbating by someone close to you, doing favours for the mob, and practicing in a shitty jam space. What do all these things have in common? They’re topics covered by pop-punk rockers Amber Lamps.
Based out of Astoria, New York, these cats have been kicking it since 2009. They’re a three-piece that are bringing pop-punk back to its roots. They’re not doing anything ground-breaking on this album, but I love them more for that. The crafting of the songs are basic, but HOLY FUCKING SHIT ARE THEY CATCHY! After giving this album a solitary listen earlier in the week, I continuously caught myself humming or singing “Bitter Ride” at different points in my day; after all, isn’t a catchy hook the best part about writing an anthem?
Now, let’s get into the nitty gritty of their debut album, Plaidypuss.
First off, the vocal melodies are great. Done by both Brian Greene and Eddie James, they’re picture perfect in every sense of the phrase. The hook in “On The Radio” is a great example of this. The main melody is simple, but that extra fifth note added by the back ups pushes it up into memorable.
The guitar work is solid for adding attention to the dynamics of the songs. When you feel that there should be palm mutes, BAM! They’re there. When the songs cut loose, everything is open in a hammering, down-picking fury. However my favourite part of Brian Greene’s guitar work is the simple yet immensely effective melody in “Another Lie.” Starting at 1:03, during the second verse, he does a little guitar lick that will have you rethinking anything you’ve ever created as a musician. Simple, effective, and absolutely slaying, it’s everything a good riff should be.
Next, that bass tone. I don’t know the specific gear that Eddie James Ajay is running through, but I want all listeners to take note. Replicate this sound. Do it until people are sick of it, and then remember where it came from. It’s gritty and resonates enough through the pop-punk to make you forget that you’re listening to something Green Day could have come up with during their heyday.
Lastly, for the positive stuff anyway, is the vocal range on Greene. “James” is a great example of this. He’s able to croon his way into your heart with his lower range during the opening two minutes. Then, when 2:33 hits, he jacks his voice up an octave with enough force to give you splinters on your soul. Not to mention that stunning outro scream to end the album during “Legacy.”
Now it’s time for why this album didn’t score a 10 outta 10. First, it is pop-punk, and while I extolled the virtues above about why I like that they don’t break the mould, it’s nothing that you’ve not heard many times before. Second, I prefer the band’s tongue-in-cheek approach to the lyrics during the first few songs. Suddenly however, it gets dark and serious. To me, it played with the flow more than it should have. The songwriting was always great, but I went from feeling happy and upbeat to downtrodden. It was not a shift that I expected, nor enjoyed.
Finally, if you think you might dig these cats, they’re playing a show on the 19th of March at Halyards in Brooklyn. This link will give you all the details. I implore you to check ‘em out and let me know if their live show lives up to the album in the comments section below. I look forward to hearing from y’all.
Written by Aaron Deck
*edited by Kate Erickson