On their fourth full-length studio album, the Oregon-based punk band Broadway Calls have put together their strongest collection of songs to date. Produced by a longtime admirer of the band in Scott Goodrich, Sad in the City is a record that does a good job of reacting to the world we live in right now. Lead vocalist and guitarist, Ty Vaughn had this to say about his latest record; “Sad In The City is about navigating the end of the most violent empire the world has ever seen. Making your way home to the ones you love while trying to avoid the police. Finding love and realizing how it still needs to be celebrated even as we burn the world. Dealing long overdue fatal blows to the state and the corporations they serve. It is a violent record for a violent time. This isn’t dystopian fiction. There’s a stain on the road, shaped like a kid. There’s a target on your back where it’s always been. And now everyone is Sad In The City.” With so much pent up aggression loaded into this record’s context, it’s no wonder why the album plays out as well as it does.
Kicking off the set with the bratty “Never Take Us Alive,” Broadway Calls breeze their way through the song with veteran-ease. Highlighted by the great guitar work of Ty Vaughn, he plays well off the punishing drumming of Josh Baird and the pulsating bass lines courtesy of Adam Willis. “You Gotta Know” expands upon the thematic elements introduced in the solid opener with some more solid melodic punk rock that sounds a little bit like Lucky Boys Confusion.
The title track starts with a great bass line from Willis that allows for Vaughn to set the stage for describing the environment we are living in at the moment. Vaughn never allows for the darker material of describing the shit show going on in the world to outweigh the melodic moments in the song. The majority of the songs sound upbeat, but the lyrics paint a less rosy picture.
“Take Me Down” opens cautiously with some acoustic guitar that eventually bleeds away for a great slab of punk rock. The hooks found on the pre-chorus and chorus itself make for great sing-a-long moments that will ultimately invite audience participation when they are able to get back on the road. “Radiophobia” is one of the more recent singles to come from the LP, and it showcases the band’s strengths in their approach to songwriting. It features some great riffs from Vaughn and has a nice punk rock bounce to it throughout.
My favorite track comes in the form of “Meet Me on the Moon,” which has a great storytelling approach to the song similar to The Ataris and Social Distortion. Vaughn describes getting away from all the mess on earth with this person he’s in a relationship with, and it’s clear that he wants a change of pace from the same old situation. Album closer, “Went Dyin” is built around a cool guitar riff that sounds much different from anything else on the record, and is as close as the band gets to writing a ballad. The track sold me on this band altogether since it breaks away from some of the “punk rock blur” that’s easy to get caught up in from similar-sounding songs. It ends up being one of the stronger songs on the album and makes for a well-rounded listening experience.
Broadway Calls have crafted out their sound on this album that is reminiscent of legendary punk bands such as Rancid, Anti-Flag, and The Bouncing Souls. By putting these influences directly back into their sound, the noise coming through the speakers is an ultra-rewarding experience for the listener. With 11 blazing tracks that wrap up in a little more than 35 minutes, Broadway Calls wastes little time in getting their point across and leaves the audience wanting even more by the time the final note plays out.