DOWN BY LAW: Lonely Town: CD

May 25, 2021

I am really trying to figure out what is stranger; the fact that Down By Law has a new album out in 2021 or that I have to review it? Dave Smalley’s early ’90s outfit has always had a special place for me as they were the first band I ever interviewed. It went badly, but Smalley was nice about it. In recent times he is known more for his “conservative punk” stance, which I find off-putting to say the least. Musically, this album takes that tried and true Down By Law formula of “ALL + Bad Religion” and somehow makes it more bland. It isn’t that the songs are bad, just generally forgettable. Lyrically, I can’t be sure what’s going on as the liner notes are too tiny for my busted-up eyes, and I am not going to put in the time to listen to this enough times to learn the lyrics. I can hear enough in the song “Black Sheep” to hear how it mirrors that old conservative “since being liberal is mainstream, being right wing must be punk” chestnut. Yuck. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention the choice to close the album with a bluesy, boogie rock cover of Herman And The Hermits’ “My Reservation’s Been Confirmed.” So random and out of place. This has not been particularly enjoyable. –Ty Stranglehold (Kung Fu)