Music

MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE

Bottles, Our Breakdowns

by My Life in Black and White

Released 2007
Released 2007
Punk/Western/Rock n' Roll
NOTES
"[HARDASS COUNTRY-ROCK] I spent a good portion of my life drinking whiskey to songs much like those on My Life in Black and White’s sophomore release, Bottles, Our Breakdowns. You know, raspy-voiced, punk-country songs that make it OK for tough guys to get sensitive. Songs like Social Distortion’s “Story of My Life” or Against Me!’s “Sink, Florida, Sink.” Songs that inspire hugging as much as punching.

Unfortunately, Bottles also leans toward that brand of predictable, heavy, dude-rock that’s made modern rock radio unlistenable for years, if only on a couple tracks: namely, “Dear Friends:,” which gets a little thrashy/screamo at times, and occasionally on “Good Night Gracie.” Though vocalist and main six-string wielder Dylan Summers comes off a tad contrived at times, he certainly has a penchant for Mike Ness-ish gnarling, which is hard not to find endearing. When Summers applies his tough-guy stylings to stripped-down, acoustic-guitar-based ballads like “Bury Me at Sea”—which begins with Summers’s gravelly voice declaring, “Bloody and on my knees/ Is a bad place to be/ But I’d find my way to heaven/ Just to fall down at your feet”—he takes on that sort of been-through-some-shit-and-survived quality that makes Lucero frontman Ben Nichols so freakin’ awesome. “Cork City,” likewise, is a rollicking, Pogues-ish number led by plenty o’ picking and Summers beckoning listeners to sing along—classic rabble-rousing, beer-swilling behavior.

The aptly titled Bottles, Our Breakdowns offers a few surprises, as well: “Gunslinger” starts with snappy, almost ska, drumming and launches into a super-fast, Irish folk-tinged rock jig that rescues itself from redundancy with the slowed-down, punchy delivery of “‘Cause there’s a/ gun-slinger/ in the hall-way” at the lead of each chorus. Sure, the themes on Bottles—drinking, travel, drinking, odes to dead friends, drinking—are par for the course, but damn if “Like a Soldier” (with its constant, unexpectedly shrill electric guitar part and gratifying brotherhood-themed and power-chord-fueled chorus) couldn’t inspire impassioned group yelling.

Of course, there comes a time in one’s life when trashing hotel rooms and guzzling Jim Beam becomes—what’s that word?—immature. But My Life in Black and White’s latest actually makes me want to sink to old levels. And I’m guessing that if Bottles can do that, this quintet’s live show just might have enough black-wearing, grimace-making charm to strip Portland of a little of its cool—or at least get it drunk enough to spill some whiskey and punch a few best friends. AMY MCCULLOUGH."

"MY LIFE IN BLACK AND WHITE colors their roots-punk palette with shades of country and western (to paraphrase an old joke) to evoke noir-ish images of a harsh past and bleak future. The [Portland] quintet, however, bears quite a similarity to Bay Area literate-punk legends Jawbreaker, particularly its singer, whose raspy, slight vocals are hauntingly reminiscent of Jawbreaker's Blake Schwarzenbach. But the songs' singalong choruses and stomping western feel give them their own character, as well." - DAVE CLIFFORD, writer for the Willamette Week

"I imagine that the Alkaline Trio crowd would eat up a band like My Life in Black and White, a band that meshes the self-deprecating lyrical side of said trio with its own blistering party punk and obsession with all things Irish. The band was personally recommended to me by a door guy at the Funhouse (Seattle’s oldest surviving punk club), who then proceeded to smash some bottles with a shovel, a practice he referred to as “punk-rock baseball.” If that guy says My Life in Black and White is punk, then it is definitely punk." - CASEY JARMAN, writer for the Willamette Week