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Album Review

Like a female version of the White Stripes, the Pack A.D. play a drums 'n' guitar version of the blues that sounds at once minimalist and raucously loud. Mistakes are frequent, riffs are botched, and the percussion is unapologetically messy, which gives this debut a looseness that surprisingly works in its favor. What could otherwise be written off as a mere gimmick ("Hey! Those two girls are playing a predominantly male form of music!") comes across as genuine and heartfelt, taking strength in the tiny flaws that align the album with classic blues records of yesteryear. But while Tintype is certainly authentic, it isn't always good. Becky Black's throaty vocals look for some middle ground between Janis Joplin and Ann Wilson, and her scratched-to-hell wails are the highlight of the disc. When she drops into a lower register, however, Black's soulfulness sounds forced, taking much of the swagger out of the Pack's racket. A duo like this is meant to be heard live, where Black can push her voice to its scratchy limit and Maya Miller's percussion can rattle the audience's beer mugs. The studio simply doesn't suit them at this formative stage in their career, and only a small handful of songs — mostly the three "Hardtrack Saloon" pieces, which sound as though they were recorded at a honky tonk bar during the American West's expansion — make good use of the recording process. The magic is still there, buried somewhere beneath Black's sporadic awkwardness and the potentially incendiary sounds of her guitar, but it doesn't quite come alive on this disc. Here's to hoping for a live album sometime soon.


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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Tintype, The Pack A.D.
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