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THE ALARM

Sunday, July 06, 2008
Waking Up To The Alarm

Starting out in the 1983 with their self-titled EP through 1991's "Raw," The Alarm created catchy, anthemic songs ("Marching On," "Sixty Eight Guns," "Spirit of '76," to name a few) that were slices of roughed-up folk rock. Musically, they were the exception to the rule, as they were the square peg in the round hole playing a mix of punk, alternative, and 60's protest folk, when it came to MTV and the slick, polish band's that the music channel was shoving down the throats of their millions of views.

Then as now, The Alarm represents the bridge between bands like the Clash, U2, or John Hammond, and Old 97's or rising stars Motorama, respectively. In fact, on their new album "Guerilla Tactics," lead singer/ guitarist Mike Peter's penned a tribute to the Clash ("Three Sevens Clash") and the punk scene that was exploding in the late 70's. Producer Gilby Clarke (Gun's 'N Roses) gives The Alarm pretty much a free hand, balancing the album between studied intensity and an all out rocker. The focus is on Mike Peters' vocals, that open up the sound of the band with intense dynamics and a strong rhythm section that propels the songs with anarchic grace.

One of the center pieces (15 songs in all), is "Love, Hope, and Strength" which, besides having a heaping share of echoed guitars, sweeping vocals, and bluesy harmonica slices, is also the name of Mike Peter's own cancer charity, Lovehopestrength.org. (Mike was diagnosed with Chronic lymphonic Leukemia in
2006, and with chemotherapy has been in remission. They even captured Mike's battle with cancer with a TV documentary "The Road to Recovery, that came out in 2006).

“Alarm Calling" is an energetic dance-rocker with a catchy melody, and is one of the many album's standout cuts. Along with their raw, expressive, close to the heart catalog, this album would fit perfectly into The Alarm's live set (they're playing at Joey Harrison's Surf Club in Ortley Beach on July 9, and House of Blues in Atlantic City on July 11).

Lyrically subtle, shining with muscular finesse, and combining the band's past, present, and future, this is an impressive Alarm album. - Phil Rainone