Album of the Week: X – ‘ALPHABETLAND’

What more is there to say about X? One of the most influential bands to come out of the LA punk scene, and that is saying something in and of itself. Featuring the immense talents of Exene Cervenka and John Doe, along with Billy Zoom, and DJ Bonebrake, their first four records from 1980 – 1983 are indisputable classics that more than stand the test of time. Punk in spirit, X was never really aggressive like their LA contemporaries but instead built their anthemic sound on a foundation of revved-up surf, roots, and rockabilly.

And now here they are with ‘Alphabetland‘, their first new record with all original members in 35 years! What a nice surprise this is. Eleven tracks that seriously sound like they are from the same songwriting period as ‘Under the Big Black Sun‘, they are that good. A couple of songs have seen the light of day before, the cowpunk bopper ‘Delta 88 Nightmare‘ is an older song that was released in 2019, and ‘Cyrano de Berger’s Back‘ is an early one that John Doe wrote way back. It was recorded by fellow LA punks The Flesh Eaters on their 1981 album ‘A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die‘, that featured John Doe and DJ Bonebrake. Both songs have floated around in demo versions over the years, but they really come to life here, as do the new tracks.

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“When your heart is broken you think every song is about that. These songs were written in the last 18 months & it blows my mind how timely they are,” explained John Doe. “We all want our family, friends & fans to hear our records as soon as it’s finished. This time we could do that.”

X has broken up and reformed a number of times over the years, but this time it feels like they are back. Released by Fat Possum, ‘Alphabetland‘ sounds great, with production by Rob Schnapf (Elliott Smith, The Bronx, Kurt Vile). Exene and John’s trademark harmonies are spot-on and the guitars sound big and gnarly especially on the standout title track that opens the record. Songs like ‘Water or Wine‘ make classic rock and roll sound like something you’ve never heard before. So good, welcome back!


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One foot in the door
The other one in the gutter

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