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Funeral Mixtape

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Album Review

Coming across like a female version of the Black Keys, this Vancouver duo growls and snarls with catchy ferocity on its second full-length, mixing a punchy batch of rock tracks that are about 75 percent garage and 25 percent blues. Becky Black's scratchy but sometimes surprisingly tender and pretty vocals are reminiscent of Janis Joplin in their emotional intensity, but there's more than a hint of Concrete Blonde's Johnette Napolitano when she takes it down a notch or sarcastically sneers. Black is angry, but it's a smart, knowing variety of anger that comes with age and experience. She modulates and punctuates rather than screaming. When she gets really quiet on "Worried" she even sounds a bit like Sinéad O'Connor. To have that kind of stylistic range and wield it without becoming pretentious is impressive. Minimalist raw blues guitar squalls, bends, and chunks paired with slow pounding drumbeats are a fine backing, framing Black's voice like Americana outsider art. It might take a couple listens to get into Black and partner Maya Miller's groove, but Funeral Mixtape gets better and better with familiarity, after a listener learns to trust Black's vocals and dark themes and realize the duo is for real. Explosive songs like "Build" and "June" are every bit as good as those of peers like the White Stripes. Three of the album's first four tracks are probably the album's weakest, primarily because of some slight lyrically awkwardness, and that could turn off listeners, but things get better and better once those are out of the way. Funeral Mixtape is a sleeper of an album, and as good as the Pack A.D. sound here, some expanded studio dynamics in the future could send them into the stratosphere.

Biography

Formed: 2006 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Cana

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Following in the tradition of the Black Keys and the White Stripes, the Pack A.D. play a blend of rock and electric blues. The female duo is comprised of drummer Maya Miller and vocalist/guitarist Becky Black, both of whom left their previous Pixies-styled band to focus on bluesier music. After emerging in 2006 as one of Vancouver's more buzzworthy bands, the Pack A.D. signed with Mint Records in 2007 and released a debut album, Tintype, the following January. Funeral Mixtape, the duo's second offering,...
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Funeral Mixtape, The Pack A.D.
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