Heroes of the Alamo – 98 to 1

Named after a 1937 B-movie starring Earle Hodgins, Bruce Warren, and Lane Chandler, Heroes of the Alamo hail not from Texas, but rather from New York. There is a distinct Elvis Costello influence throughout, especially on elements such as the jangly rhythm guitar parts, and there is also a wealth of distortion slathered all over most of the guitar work, leaving it to sound like a thousand other bands not yet ready for life outside of the garage. There are almost always two distinct layers of male vocals, and at least one is usually a bit abrasive. The rhythm section provides enough support, but it can’t save this from sounding like little more than something you might not mind hearing in some rustic dive bar.
The opening “Not My Fault” is a harmless chunk of moderately dark and angst-tinged rock, but from that point on, it’s pretty sugary sweet. “She’s Still” is a poppy number about lost love, and the same goes for many of the songs that follow. “Jean” also falls into this category, but is saved by some lovely female supporting vocals from Nan Turner. “Cleaning Woman,” “Jenny G,” and “That Kind of Girl” are sheer pop gooiness, while “One Step Closer” and “Gavin’s Perambulator” have a hint of an angsty edge to them. “Navigator” is one of the rare moments in which you can’t deny the catchiness, while “Elements” and “Acquiescing” are more lulling and melancholy numbers, but there is still little that stands out as extremely interesting here.
Despite all the problems listed above, 98 to 1 is not completely without promise. You can almost always (I say “almost always” because “Survival Waltz,” “Old Bikes and Car Parts,” and others should perhaps be abandoned altogether) hear bits and pieces of what could have been quality songs, buried underneath a sort of musical immaturity. The production, much of which was done by the band itself, is partially to blame here, and it all leaves you hoping the boys have a little better luck next time around.