The Soft Pack

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by John Anderson

The Soft Pack

Stubb's, Thursday, March 18

When the Muslims played South by Southwest a few years ago, you could tell they had definite pop chops under their sloppy surf rock. One wise name change later, San Diego-bred, L.A.-based quartet the Soft Pack have excised the fat and made the lean parts work. Their debut self-titled Kemado LP works with the Ramones' logic of the pop song: verse, chorus, verse; make sure to get the hook in their heads; and have fun with it. With three-fourths of the band in collared shirts, they came off like a cool frat, the kind holding fundraisers for environmental causes but one that also has cool house parties. The songs come off like that too, singer/guitarist Matt Lamkin earnestly declaring that we should apply ourselves while simultaneously mainlining the pop sugar of more world-weary songs like "Answer to Yourself," "Down on Loving," and "Pull Out." The live show amplified the punk aspect of their songs, but they kept it concise: Even longer "jammer" "Parasite" had some bob and weave to it. As long as they keep a balance between fun and structure, they're on the way to something good.

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