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Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts

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Album Review

More fitting for a car ride home than a romp in the mosh pit, American Steel's second album for Fat Wreck Chords as a reunited band shows the guys continuing to evolve from their rambunctious punk-ska foundations into a more focused, muscular pop group. Here, on Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts, their music is too puffed out and slick to be really considered punk anymore; it's more analogous to American Idiot-era Green Day, with big melodies substituted for the breakneck speed of their early years. The touching sunshine vocal rounds of "Meals & Entertainment" show that Pet Sounds has replaced Inflammable Material on their inspirational turntable, in the same way that classic rock inspired Green Day's latter work. Fans of the Lookout years may be bummed with the softened new sound and changed direction, but American Steel seem so comfortable away from their Operation Ivy three-chord crunch that it's hard to believe they were ever anything but polished pop/rockers. Set in a moderate tempo, instead of trying to change society with their lyrics they now just try to escape it by rocking hard and partying hard — even dancing hard — in the face of adversity. While the inherent tone of "you can do it" is an upbeat departure, the most glaring change from earlier albums is in the timbre of Rory Henderson's voice, which has completely lost its raspy grit. He sings (truly sings) throatily, all the while urgently commanding the punch-drunk and weary to keep their chins up: "Emergency House Party" pushes the notion that drinking, dancing, and singing along will make everything all right, while "Tear the Place Apart" is what you might expect, a four-chord jam that urges, "Get your ass up on your feet now, baby! Tear the place apart!"

Customer Reviews

Better Than The Review

Well, this review is a slap in the face. To say AS "were never anything by polished pop/rockers" is to out yourself as a bitter old (probably young, actually) punk. The record is actually quite similar to the previous "Destroy Their Future" in production and time signatures. Perhaps a bit less bite and scathing criticism, and it's true, more trademark optimism. Rory has been lessening his gravely sounds since way back around Jagged Thoughts. Listen to "Maria", and you can see the band's maturity began long before Fat Music. "Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts" has much more to do with Irish Folk and Motown than anything on Green Day's attempt at a British Invasion. A respectable record from a more-than-respectable band. Much respect.

Yeah! It's here!

It's great to finally have another American Steel album. It's not as poppy as the iTunes review implies, and it still has nice-sounding rough edges.

A classic album

What else can I say... quality music from a great band.. and really the nicest guys you could ever meet. Come back to NC!!! This album is a little different than DTF but I think it is refreshing.. the harmonies are amazing.. the music is on point. American Steel, I hope you get the recognition you deserve off of this album. I hope to see you guys again!! AND.... THANK YOU for making amazing music. Seriously.


Formed: 1995 in West Oakland, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The underground punk band American Steel was founded in 1995 while making a name for themselves in the San Francisco punk district. The West Oakland crew comprised vocalist/guitarist Rory Henderson, guitarist Ryan Massey, bassist John Peck, and drummer Jamie Kissinger; Kissinger was replaced by Scott Healy in 1996 behind the kit, though he later returned around 2000. They independently released a 7" entitled "Hope Wanted" and the first pressing sold out almost immediately thanks to the heavy push...
Full Bio
Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts, American Steel
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