Alberta Cross – Broken Side of Time

Band: Alberta Cross
Album: Broken Side of Time
Release Date: January 19, 2010

I first discovered Alberta Cross through their song, “The Thief & the Heartbreaker,” so it seems appropriate that I begin there. Actually, the version on Broken Side of Time is the third “Thief & the Heartbreaker” I have in my library.

And this newest one seems to be my favorite.

It’s not much different in sound to the one on the band’s Thief & the Heartbreaker mini-album from 2007. The biggest change I noticed is less emphasis on the backing vocals in the refrain. And yeah, that probably seems pretty minor, but it makes a huge difference. It wasn’t until I heard the new recording that I picked up on how sluggish the refrain seemed with all those competing voices.

With instrumentals remaining largely the same, Petter Ericson Stakee’s lead vocals also have more clarity. A good thing, too, because his words in “Thief” carry some bite:

From my hometown, a lying heartbreak
You my heartbreaker, you my heartbreak
From my hometown, a lying heartbreak
You, my heartbreaker, you, my heartbreak

And:

Time has changed, there’s something new
We might find we must go
My only friend, mistreated blues
My only friend, mistreated blues

Stakee is a dude in pain, and that’s clear from songs like “Thief” and pretty much everything else on Broken Side of Time. For me, it’s an album about loss, and then tryin’ to get by on what’s left.

Think about the following:

  • In “ATX,” Stakee says, “Come on take me home,” “I’ve got the fear inside of me” and “I just wanna feel, because I just can’t relate.”
  • “Song 3 Blues”: “I just wanna live instead of cryin’.”
  • “Old Man Chicago”: “Oh there were millions, we were just one” and “Leave us a friend, ’cause living life is lonely, leave us a friend it’s just live life if only now yeah.”
  • And in “Ghost of the City Life,” Stakee thinks he’s, well, the titular ghost and says he’s “tired of city life now, I’m the ghost of, ghost of city life.”

The problem, though, is there doesn’t seem to be much catharsis here. Stakee’s got real shit to deal with, yet doesn’t have a fight plan.

Instead, Broken Side of Time seems to muddle in the blues, both in sound and in words. There are also moments, like in “Rise From the Shadows,” where Stakee accompanies the keys, drums and guitars with extended “Ooo ooo” howls. It goes on a good minute and a half or so, and is an interesting way to sonically show suffering.

Beyond Broken Side of Time’s possible themes, there’s something to be said about Alberta Cross the band. Their rock-blues is accomplished and quite good. I love the screaming guitars in “ATX” and the chilling atmosphere they craft in “Rising From the Shadows.” Part of the reason I like the album so much is because of how well they match up with what’s coming from Stakee’s mic.

Extras:

  • Alberta Cross, based in New York, is Petter Ericson Stakee, Terry Wolfers, Sam Kearney, Alec Higgins and Austin Beede.
  • Their album, Broken Side of Time, is available on the band’s official website for $7.99 (mp3s) or $11.99 (CD + mp3s).
  • Alberta Cross will rock Double Door tonight with Dead Confederate (Athens, Georgia). Tickets are $15.

Alberta Cross — “ATX”

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About Eric

Hello there. Email your things to chicagotunes[at]gmail[dot]com.
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