In a time of huge emergencies, it’s comforting to know that the little things are not being ignored. Great rock music is one of those things alive and well thanks to Atlanta’s ambulette. The quintet consists of Halley O’Malley on vocals, Matt Brown (Uncle Green, 3 lb. Thrill) on vocals/guitar, Lee Kennedy on bass, Jonny Daly on guitar, and Lee Wiggins on drums. The EP was recorded at Chase Park Transduction in Athens, GA, and produced by ambulette and David Barbe.
The official release for Too Bad About All Your Problems was back in January but the pandemic has upended the musical world. The sound embodies a punk aesthetic without sacrificing too much melody. The musicians appear free to explore individual sounds leading to a collection of songs, each shining with its own personality. However, there’s much more to ambulette’s sound. Brown and O’Malley create killer harmonies adding enough pop sensibility to make these tunes accessible. When asked about the band’s dynamics, Brown said, “We do everything with the intent to involve each other as much as possible on every song. We’ve always envisioned the band as a two-guitar/two-vocalist attack.”
The first seven seconds of opener “Four Walls and a Roof” may trick you into thinking this is a cover of some old tune. The song quickly becomes ambulette’s own and provides a powerful singalong chorus. Next up is the most Uncle Green-ish of the five tunes, “Told You Sold You,” and Brown sounds comfy in the confines of it. “All Men Are Wires” is a track that simply cannot be turned up loud enough.“This Town” begins with chronically anxious guitar and drums and O’Malley on lead vocals. It’s a simple yet mighty rocker.
Coming in at just over five minutes is the closing track, “Lights Out White Wash / Logic,” sporting an aural amalgamation of reggae, punk, and a little 70s jam band. The song goes from zero to 90 and back a few times. While Brown and O’Malley speed through the chorus, your mind may wander into an Exene Cervenka/John Doe kinda world. Hang on.
When asked if the record had a theme, Brown replied, “No theme per se, but a lot of it is overtly political and dealing with issues of the times and our anger at 99% of it.” Asked which of the songs had political leanings, Brown added, “Oh god, ALL of them. ‘Told You Sold You’ is about living in our dystopian misinformation age, ‘Lights Out White Wash’ is a cry of angst against the Trump administration’s gaslighting, ‘Logic’ is about playing your role in the capitalist machinery out of sheer survival instinct. ‘All Men Are Wires’ definitely has some #MeToo in it. None of it is intentionally topical: it’s just where she (O’Malley) and I were at as we wrote. The year was 2016 and darkness was descending, you know?” We know.
Although the title Too Bad About All Your Problems sounds a bit apathetic, the band’s tagline, “For all your tiny emergencies,” somehow redeems them. More importantly, this excellent rock EP redeems them. Listen and buy on ambulette’s Bandcamp page which is waiving revenue shares for all sales June 5 and July 3, like them on Facebook, and follow on Twitter. And let’s be careful out there!