Late 2005 saw the disbanding of hardcore favorites Breather Resist following the departure of vocalist Steve Sindoni. The decision to no longer play old songs in Sindoni’s absence led to the official end of Breather Resist and the beginning of Young Widows. The new name was more than just a re-organization, it was a step in a different musical direction, as Young Widows takes a step back from the hardcore Breather Resist sound, and a step into the uncharted territory of noise rock.
Alright, so maybe their new path isn’t exactly unbeaten. It’s no secret that the band draws heavily on noise rock heavyweights the Jesus Lizard for musical influences. The gritty, driving bass lines and less than melodic guitar work bare quite a resemblance. They’re not ashamed to admit it, with the third track on Settle Down City, "Glad He Ate Her," being a clear nod to the Jesus Lizard’s "Gladiator." With the mix of the Jesus Lizard influence and some of the leftover intensity of Breather Resist, Settle Down City often resembles some of the more experimental leanings of Suicide Note’s last effort, Too Sick To Dance (Forever Fucked). On the whole, it’s a solid release by some veteran musicians under a new moniker.
The only downside to Settle Down City is the lack of consistent album pace. After the slower tempo intro title track, the first half of the disc moves ahead with determination. The early up-tempo tracks are propelled forward by noisy bass and pounding drums, and are complimented by the monotone yells of guitarist Evan Patterson. Bassist Nick Thieneman shares some of the vocal duties, and even Sindoni makes a singing appearance on "Glad He Ate Her." However, the second half of Settle Down City often succumbs to moments of lethargy, most notably during the dragging verses of "The Charmers" and the slow paced "New Forest." I understand that the noise rock genre is often on the experimental side of the game, but I strongly prefer the faster tracks on this album.
The production on this album is crisp enough to capture the meandering guitar work, dirty bass lines and hammering drums, yet it doesn’t alter the band’s overall raw style. Having had the pleasure of witnessing Young Widows’ live show, I’m quite pleased with the accuracy of their recorded sound on Settle Down City.
Bottom Line: While Young Widows may be three-fourths of Breather Resist, Settle Down City displays a new musical direction for these guys. I’m afraid that some fans will cry "Jesus Lizard worship" before giving this album a chance, although they wouldn’t actually be that far off base. This disc has some dull moments, but it’s still a good release that should find a home in any noise rock fan’s CD collection.