Picking up where they left off on 2012’s Midwest Mess, Cincinnati’s Alone at 3AM chronicle rust belt malaise on Show the Blood. The quintet of Max Fender, Sarah Davis, Christopher Mueller, Andy Hittle and Joey Beck retreat from the strained relationships of Midwest Mess, turning an eye to future generations.
With suffocating honesty, Alone at 3AM quash the American idyll with tarnished tales of city life (“Story on Sixth”, “Sticks and Stones”) and hollow hope (“Upside”) that are not isolated to just the Ohio-Kentucky border. The ten sooty portraits on Show the Blood offer no sunny flip side; to combat their dour realism, one must adhere to the determination of “Most Men” to avoid the stasis of “I’m Dying”, the human potential of “Could Work Out” offsetting the futility of “Just Can’t Let Go.”
Nothing really changes
Sometimes life just gets heavy
Tries to rearrange us
It’s how you get back up
Without promising change, Fender can only peer through a hazy crystal ball, offering up “Hold on to your dream a little while longer,” singing as someone who’s been there on closer “Late 90s.” For such bitter subject matter, Alone at 3AM brighten the edges musically with Hittle’s chiming guitar, the rhythm section of Mueller and Beck constantly rolling like freight trains and Davis’s flickering keys and gleeful backing vocals. Three years between releases is an eternity today, yet Alone At 3AM delivers, showing their guttural fire remains while proving why they are one of the best independent bands going today.