Key Tracks: “Cut the Line,” “Aunt Betty”
Middle Class Rut were one of the more successful bands to ride the coattails of Band of Skulls in 2009-10. The band, sometimes referred to as MC Rut, heralded a surprisingly successful debut album in 2010, shortly after Band of Skulls began to seep into alternative radio. There has been a recent revival in simple, heavy alt-rock, like a Ramones updated for the indie world. Middle Class Rut are some of the champions of this revival, being just a two-piece that plays heavy guitar rock that may have been recorded in a basement somewhere. This could all be traced back to the White Stripes, but these more recent bands specialize in an incredibly straight-forward approach to music, delivering the listener quick and heavy blasts, often over soon after they start.
Albums by bands like Middle Class Rut sound boring on paper, as the straight-forward sound of their music sounds wholly unoriginal. But Middle Class Rut are playing off the ever-increasing experimental nature of indie music, in the same way early punk bands were combating David Bowie and The Beatles’ “White Album.” What the listener gets is a heavy alternative album of two guys messing around in the studio. There might not be a focus, but there might not have to be. The result is a dose of refreshingly heavy and fast album of personal lyrics.
The whole unoriginal nature of Middle Class Rut’s music does get old, surely. Some tracks on this album are less entertaining than others. The opener, “Born Too Late,” is even heavier and faster than the normal for the band. “Cut the Line” and lead-off single “Aunt Betty” are the album’s more thought-out songs, with some experimentation and just good songwriting. Other tracks get meddled in their own repetitive nature. The album is better than their debut, which was somewhat lighter and less interesting because of it. “Pick Up Your Head” is no great album, but it never achieves to be. What it does succeed at is being a fun and intense listen, surprisingly effective for a two-piece that always kind of sound the same.
If you like this, try: “Supermegafantastic” by IAMDYNAMITE (2012). They’re the best of these simplistic rock revival bands, in my opinion. Also a male two-piece, coincidentally.
-By Andrew McNally