Review: American Thread – Killing Days

5583110Deindustrialization and its aftermath are not oft-covered topics in modern music. It takes a special breed of musician from an affected place to write and sing earnestly about such themes. Sure, you have John Mellencamp, Willie Nelson, Neil Young and their annual Farm Aid benefit concerts. Springsteen obviously comes to mind. But it’s hard to imagine these musical giants in a dive bar on the wrong side of the tracks bemoaning the death of the industries that built this nation, knowing full well they could pick up the tab for the entire group of downtrodden, working class stiffs inhabiting such an establishment.

Down at the bar they’re drinking / 12 ounce American dreams
Wild women, they feed their children / on swallowed broken screams

The scene recounted in these lines can be seen in cities small and large across America. Once the local industry (automotive, timber, steel, mining, etc.) ups and leaves, what’s left but the memories? If you are lucky, the closing door will wait for your story to end.

Not so in the case of Boston-based American Thread. They lay the harsh truths of this contemporary world bare. Songs end before a resolution is even offered. What the band’s debut album, Killing Days, offers up is realism. No gloss. No rose-tinted history. Just the facts.

Sometimes it comes on down / And sometimes we cut and we run 
Sometimes we stick around / And sometimes we end up lost and found

Guitarist/singer Brendan Ahern is the focal point of every song. Nothing is hidden; nothing is off limits: murder (“Drink for the Damned”), suicide (“12 Ounce American Dreams”), addiction (“39 Days”).

Something about killing days
Something about killing days
Something about killing days
Something about killing days

The songs on Killing Days are memorable, beautiful and tragic, recounting lives that have been downsized, dreams that have faded away. Were Killing Days not released in 2012, it would be a frontrunner for my 2013 album of the year. American Thread is a modern musical voice that deserves to be heard. Yes, you can sing along to these songs. But you’d be better served by listening. This is heady stuff.

Stream and download Killing Days below.

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