Emerging from shambolic basement shows and early roster shake-ups, over 16 years Max Fender and Joey Beck have coiled midwest stalwarts Alone at 3AM into a tightly-wound muscular force with “a refreshing straightforwardness not found in most music” (Scene).
The band has been at a dead run since 2010’s album Cut Your Gills and 2012 single From an Ohio Basement, reveling in hard-earned rock and roll escapism while revealing substantial songwriting chops. Embedded in these earliest songs, some of which like “Blacktop Cracks” remain live favorites, are unresolved questions. Often the only answer is found in the act of living in the fleeting combustion of a three minute song, that brief musical connection between band members and an audience.
Alone at 3AM explore the balance between volume and personal reflection on their 2012 LP Midwest Mess, which cements Fender’s reputation as one of Cincinnati’s most prolific and insightful songwriters. Bucketful of Nails was waiting for it, claiming, “occasionally an album comes along that has that fire, that smoldering spark your soul requires.” With songs like “Weekends at the Cape” and “Walk Away,” the singer has become more confident in the precisely personal while the band investigates new sonic territory - from the brittle postpunk of “Wolf in the Woods” to the stomping set-closing catharsis of “Burn This Town.” Throughout, Sarah Davis’s harmonies fuse with and console Fender’s tattered vocals in the band’s most far-reaching release to date. Popmatters deemed the record “raw, honest, literate storytelling, [with] brilliant song structures, [and] a built-in integrity.”