released Feb 2nd, 2010

from the album - Answer To Yourself

YouTube - The Soft Pack - Answer To Yourself

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Playing smart but simple rock that harks back to ‘60s garage, ‘70s punk, and ‘80s college rock, the Soft Pack feature vocalist/guitarist Matt Lamkin, guitarist Matty McLoughlin, bassist Dave Lantzman, and drummer Brian Hill. The band formed in San Diego in 2008, when Lamkin and McLoughlin decided to fill the void of straightforward, catchy rock bands in their town. At first, they called themselves the Muslims, and even released two October 2008 singles, Parasites/Walking with Jesus on I Hate Rock n’ Roll and Extinction/My Flash on You on Sweet Tooth Records, under that moniker. However, negative and ignorant comments about the name prompted them to change it to the Soft Pack. Their first release under that name, the Nightlife/Bright Side single, appeared in March 2009, as did the Muslims EP, which gathered the tracks from their previous singles as well as some new songs that also later appeared on May 2009’s Extinction single. Around that time the Soft Pack — who now called Los Angeles home — began recording their debut album with producer Eli Janney. The Soft Pack was released by Kemado in early 2010.

album review

The Soft Pack began their career as the Muslims, releasing a couple of witty, sharp-edged singles before negative comments about their name forced them to change it. However, everything else about the band’s smart, strummy sound remained the same, as their excellent Muslims EP and self-titled debut album proved. Listeners of a certain age (or at least a certain kind of record collection) will be struck by not just how much déjà vu The Soft Pack gives them, but how many kinds of it the album conjures. Within the band’s stripped-down rock, there are hints of ‘50s surf and ‘60s garage rock, echoes of ‘70s punk and new wave à la the Modern Lovers, traces of ‘80s college rock, and shades of Spoon, the Strokes, and other bands who kicked off the 2000s with back-to-basics sounds. Yet the Soft Pack’s music doesn’t feel overtly retro — they’re just not trying hard to sound “modern.” Unlike some of their predecessors, their simplicity is more direct than arty, a bash-it-out and get-it-out-there approach that resulted in them releasing almost two albums’ worth of songs in just over a year. They’ve got the template of classic sounds down and failsafe pop instincts. While that might not seem particularly interesting, especially compared to the increasingly delicate, intricate indie of the late 2000s, The Soft Pack sounds vital. On “C’mon,” Matt Lamkin sings “your town could be the next big thing” in a reedy rasp devoid of irony; “Pull Out” is ostensibly a manifesto on California secession, but its relentless guitars pack a bigger wallop. The Soft Pack even believes in rock & roll as rebellion, in their own way: “Answer to Yourself” tears into poseurs and thieves with nagging hooks and the defiance of someone too grown up for a typical angry young man stance, but unwilling to give into the more resigned parts of maturity. Though they don’t waste time or mince words, The Soft Pack reveals a more nuanced band than when they were the Muslims. Next to the pitch-perfect pop of “Down on Loving” are moody exercises in story-telling like “Tides of Time,” which explores the undertow of their surf fetish, and the sleepy, tropical ballad “Mexico.” The band’s directness gets a little predictable on “Flammable” — although their riffs still kick up dust — and the mopey “More or Less.” It’s also somewhat surprising that none of the irresistible songs from their earlier singles and EPs made it onto this album, save for “Parasites,” which, with its surly vocals, subtle wordplay, and undeniable chug, remains one of their quintessential moments. At any rate, The Soft Pack allows this band an almost completely clean break with their past while showing they’re dynamic no matter what they’re called.

Track Listing

1 C'mon Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 2:13
2 Down on Loving Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 2:08
3 Answer to Yourself Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 3:20
4 Move Along Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 2:20
5 Pull Out Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 3:59
6 More or Less Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 3:35
7 Tides of Time Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 2:48
8 Flammable Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 2:32
9 Mexico Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 4:12
10 Parasites Lamkin, Lantzman, McLoughlin 5:01