Posted by: Necci – Aug 19, 2010
My first listen to the debut album from Ohio’s Prisoners left me without an opinion. A second listen helped to highlight the strong influences of bands like the Replacements and the White Stripes in the band’s songwriting. With twangy, grungy guitars and gruff, crackling adolescent vocals, Prisoners do an excellent job of emulating the bluesy style of both of those bands. The problem I have with this album is that it never goes beyond mere emulation. The production is solid, and the musicianship is competent, but the songwriting does little to separate itself from the pack of accomplished bands already operating in the genre.
One song midway through inspires optimism. "Little Old Me" is spunky and whiny, full of bluesy riffs and sarcastically self-pitying vocals. It jumps out at you in a way none of the other tracks manage to do. Standard blues-based rock and roll needs to be full of tiny little hooks to keep me interested. This album, while not bad in any general sense, fails to grab me. It’s worth a listen or two, but isn’t something I’m going to be coming back to time and time again. That being said, I don’t see any reason Prisoners can’t become a solid band in time. The talent is there, but the innovative songwriting is not, yet.
By Carl Athey