Hey, remember the Ataris? I sure do.
I don't often talk about the band but Blue Skies..., End Is Forever, So Long, Astoria and their half of the Let It Burn split are extremely solid releases. Nothing against Anywhere But Here or Welcome the Night, but those two albums just don't really do it for me.
Anyway, I bring them up because Kristopher Roe just released an acoustic album, Hang Your Head in Hope, today. And it's actually quite good. There are no bells and whistles anywhere on the album- it's just Roe and his guitar. Since that is all there is, I think that he really gave it his all in his vocal performance. His singing style has changed a lot over the years, but when you hear him singing you can hear all the feeling and emotion that he puts into it. Yes, it's a studio recording, but his singing gets so intense sometimes that it would be easy to mistake for a live recording, particularly in the songs "The Hero Dies in This One," "All Souls' Day" and (of course) "San Dimas High School Football Rules." (Edit: turns out each song was recorded live in a single take, which is why it sounded that way. His voice still sounds amazing though.)
In a day when punk frontmen are going solo to release albums full of brand new instrumentation (see: Chuck Ragan, Dave Hause, Dan Andriano, Tom Gabel, etc) it's really nice to also get an album by a guy who is playing songs that fans are already familiar with. All of those guys have released solid solo releases- I'm not bashing them- and I definitely cannot wait for the new Ataris LP to come out, but I think that the song selection on this album really shows that Roe put a lot of thought and care into this release and made sure that it would be something his fans would cherish and enjoy. The level of dedication he puts into his work is really admirable, and the fact that he does it just for the love of making music to share with people is even more admirable to me.
Kristopher Roe has made this album available to stream or as a Pay-What-You-Want download on the Ataris bandcamp site. You can check it out here: http://theataris.bandcamp.com/album/hang-your-head-in-hope Maybe throw down a couple of bucks if you like it (he's also got a live EP up there that you can check out).
And did I mention that he covers both the Replacements and the Misfits on this album? Because he does.