Amos Pitsch- Acid Rain (Album Review)
The Midwest is bizarre. Its smaller cities, upon entrance, can often feel like taking a step back in time. Amos Pitsch is a creative in one of these small cities, and on his sophomore album Acid Rain he takes a look at America as a whole with a cynical eye, but one can’t help but think that there are times where Amos does feel hopeful. Readers of this review may be familiar with Amos’ work in bands such as Tenement and Dusk, two bands that have paved their ways in the punk and hardcore scenes and have become regional favorites with their distinctive sound and unrivaled edginess. Acid Rain, while keeping the edginess of his previous work in these bands, sees Amos mixing these sounds with some of his other musical interests. Breezy yacht rock textures can be heard throughout the album as well as elements of honky-tonk music. These two curiosities of Amos’ doesn’t take away any of the edge he has on Acid Rain. If anything, combining these two styles alongside his more punk attitude creates an interesting narrative within the context of these songs. A lot of the subject matter found in Acid Rain takes a look at the problems that Amos sees with America through the lens of his living in a smaller city. For the most part Amos seems angry about the state of the world and the lies that people tell everyday citizens just to get ahead, as seen on songs like ‘I’m So Angry’ and ‘(We Got It Made) in the USA. These songs are crafted in a way that looks at the place Amos lives with a critical eye, but while listening to this album, I can’t help but hear a little bit of hope within the structure of the songs.
Amos was able to keep my attention on such a straightforward album by making music that felt familiar, while delivering a bit of an edge to it. If I had heard songs like ‘The Way You Set Me Straight’ and ‘It Feels Good (To Know That You're Around)’ on the radio while cruising down one of Wisconsin’s many winding backroads, I would probably think that these were deep 70’s cuts that I was unfamiliar with. While for some albums, this would be a criticism, on Acid Rain, I find it to be a huge strength, because Amos uses this intrigue and mystery to his advantage, making songs that feel accessible on the outside, while still containing enough interesting song choices to make any music nerd salivate. A prime example of this can be found on the previously named ‘It Feels So Good (To Know That You’re Around),’ a song that feels so breezy and straight forward quickly breaks down into one of the best synth solos that I’ve heard in a long while. When juxtaposed to the track that comes after it, ‘Acid Rain’, you can start to see Amos’ brilliance take shape. As opposed to the feelgood nature that ‘It Feels So Good (To Know That You're Around)’ has, ‘Acid Rain’, is a slow burn of a song that really takes a hold of the honky-tonk sound with the slow chug of a beat played on what I think is a bass guitar. You will see brilliant tracking placements on a musical scope all throughout Acid Rain, and I believe a big part on why it works is because it does feel like this music and it’s placement are a part of a bigger picture that Pitsch is trying to convey to the world on the half hour he gets on this record.
As brilliant as the instrumentation is at demonstrating what Amos wants you to feel on this record is, what really does it for me is the songwriting and the vocal delivery displayed throughout Acid Rain. Pitsch’s Punk and Hardcore background can be felt in subtle ways throughout this album, as he is still singing about overall frustrations, but they play really well together on songs that are a little bit softer, like ‘In Our Old House, Pt. 1’, a softer track about the destruction and decay of a house that the narrator once spent a lot of time in and had a lot of memories with. Two two-part tracks take place on this album, entitled ‘We Got It Made in the USA Parts I and II’, and ‘This Old House, Parts I and II’. Upon first glance this reviewer rolled his eyes as sometimes these songs are just a gimmick, but these exceeded my expectations and quickly became some of the tracks I was looking forward to the most on the album, as Amos completely reinvents the song that he is performing, typically bringing listeners a darker representation of the track and a more upbeat rendition of the track. Whether it be relationships, people who live in a small town, or America as a whole, Amos has a lot to deconstruct and talk about on Acid Rain, and again lyrically, it does feel ultra critical, but for the right reasons. In a lot of ways, this album really resonated with me. As a creative living in a smaller city in the Midwest, I often feel discouraged by people around me for wanting to do the things that I try to do creatively. This conservative resistance can often bleed into internal thoughts of not being enough, or being too different to be able to get my point across in a way that is impactful to others and makes sense to me. A lot of these songs seem to be wrestling with the same frustrations I have for the passive aggressiveness of the Upper Midwest, but there’s still a lot I remain hopeful for about this area, and through these tracks I can’t help but think that Amos has the same hopeful nature that I have for this part of the nation.
Acid Rain is an album that will catch many by surprise with the unassuming punch that it’s able to carry, but I feel like this is all thanks to the consideration that Amos took while crafting his sophomore album. Maybe it’s the fact that this is an album that was tracked during the lockdowns of 2020, but this feels like an ultra personal and intimate listening experience, and every time I spin this record, I really hope it never ends, because its songs have been permanently etched in my head. Acid Rain feels both nostalgic, fresh, and critical upon society all at the same time, and I really love it for balancing all of these different feelings in a very delicate manner.
Favorite Tracks: The Way You Set Me Straight, I’m So Angry, It Feels Good (To Know That You’re Around)
Listen to ‘The Way You Set Me Straight,’ off of Acid Rain below. Acid Rain was released on Crutch of Memory Records, a label that Pitsch helps co-run. If interested in buying Acid Rain or checking out of any of the other releases the label has done, check their bandcamp page out at:
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