Alone in a Crowd
Every once in awhile a CD comes along that doesn’t leave my CD player until it starts skipping from overplaying. That’s the story of Alone in a Crowd from Catch 22. These boys from New Jersey are excellent songwriters and musicians. This album is short (the longest song is 3:09), but each song includes manic horn riffs over ska guitar and tricky vocals that make it hard to keep up. It’s nice to hear a CD that isn’t entirely about girls. The lyrics almost read like poetry and there are internal reflections on life, running away, and being alone. Despite the peppy music, Catch 22 sings about some dark stuff, like in “What Goes Around Comes Around” where vocalist Jeff Davidson sings “Your father is also your pain/I love you and for us I’ll shoot him down.” I won’t ruin the ending of the song, but it’s not your typical teenage love angst. Aside from the upbeat and catchy ska songs, Catch 22 tries different musical ideas. “Bloomfield Ave.” is perhaps my favorite on this album. It starts out with slow and pretty strings that sound very Fiddler on the Roof-esque. The strings lead into a quick, almost 2-Tone progression and rapid vocals with horns that could have been plucked out of the Big Band era. The next track, “Hard To Impress,” is strikingly different, with dark, angry screams. After that, “San Francisco Payphone” is a catchy, light little ska number. There’s also a punk rock cover of “Sloop John B” and a funny bonus track at the end (appropriately, it is track 22). My only complaint? Perhaps it’s just because of the kickin’ sound system in my Saturn, but the recording quality doesn’t seem that great. At times the songs will seem a little flat. But other than that, Alone in a Crowd is a unique album that I hope will earn Catch 22 some attention.