BANDCAMP: https://davidalpha.bandcamp.com/album/rockin-roulette

This EP from Tampa’s David Alpha is a fireball of vitriol, hard drinkin’ nights and tight songwriting that not only get the job done but set the workplace on fire in the process.  Alpha’s had a deep-diving career with multiple projects that have seen critical praise and the adoration of a cult-fanbase.  He’s been in bands such as The Fons and underground heavyweights The Dharma Bums, in addition to carving out a fierce solo career with lots of material to dig into.  These two songs are taken from a pair of compilation discs that are set to drop in the near future with the one most imminent being Rockin’ Roulette

The songs contained here would hardly hint at a man who chose to leave music for a time and attend grad school.  No one can fault David as he’s lived the rock n’ roll adventure one thousand times over.  It’s a frustrating world whether you’re small, middle or big and it takes a toll on the psyche to keep it going when the pressure of how you’re going to pay for it all starts mounting. 

The helter skelter personality of this little teaser is apparent right from the opening track, “Sacrilege” which happens to be  co-written with the Dead Kennedys’ East Bay Ray.  It’s definitely got an 80s punk riot happening in its scraggly guitar riffs, punk snarled pacing and Alpha’s snarling drunk voice that narrate the tougher side of laugh when we drop out and drink up.  Killer rock n’ roll guitar stingers take the genre back to its dirty, earthy roots as David conjures up menace and a blackened sneer with lines like, “And if you don’t want me I’ll sleep in the car/and if I get hungry I’ll eat at the bar.”  It’s a lifer’s sentiment on being resented and it hits the mark for those of us who’ve walked that fine line between do-gooder and degenerate. 

“Jeans” is all crashing snare, rockabilly-twisted bass lines and big, bent guitar riffs that break into sweet little leads whenever the time is right.  It doesn’t have as much nasty going as “Sacrilege” but trades gut for soul in a laid-back rocker that again assumes the character of a down and out schmuck trying to get through the world against all opposing forces.  In the dichotomy of the songwriting, blues starts creeping up with those big, brawny bass lines and popping drums bubbling to the forefront as the liquor drawl of the vocals and fiery guitar-work sends the music into anarchy overdrive. 

David Alpha’s solo work is cooking and burning, kind of like the material laid-down by PW Long outside of Mule.  It goes down to the barest bone of his influences while marrying modern aggression to classic melody that catches like a virus and gets stuck in your head like a tumor you don’t want removed. 

Sebastian Cole