Avail One Wrench

After releasing four albums with Lookout! Records, Virginia's Avail are now part of the Fat stable. And long-time fans will be relieved to know that the band hasn't taken that as their cue to radically alter their sound to fit the label's established pop-punk style. In fact, if anything, the quintet seems to have gone to great lengths to make a record that is as un-Fat sounding as possible. With its rough and raw production, and equally rough and raw music, One Wrench sounds more like it should have come out between Dixie and 4 a.m. Tuesday, not after the terrific Over the James record. Although the new record is good, it's a little disappointing in that it fails to advance the band's sound as each of the previous records did. It's almost like in the two years between records they haven't really taken the opportunity to grow as a band, opting instead to rehash musical ideas. This is still better than most of what's passing for punk nowadays, but I think most of us were expecting a little more. (Fat Wreck)