When vocalist/guitarist Matt Lamkin, guitarist Matty McLoughlin, bassist David Lantzman and drummer Brian Hill first assembled three years ago in San Diego, they christened themselves The Muslims, which could be construed as either extremely shrewd, funny or stupid, depending on your perspective. In any event, ignorance and racism won the day and the foursome were forced to change their name to The Soft Pack after a year of gigs, a pair of singles and EPs and an ass-ton of moronic hate mail;
Lamkin has pointed out that the band’s new appellation relates to either their polite character or a device worn under clothing to mimic a flaccid penis. There now, that’s better, isn’t it?
The Soft Pack’s rose-by-any-other-name is still influenced by The Fall, The Modern Lovers, The Replacements, The Feelies and R.E.M
. and still sounds like real cattle-prodded Garage Punk/Pop that in fact mirrors the influences they claim. “Fun fact” time: The Soft Pack’s second 7-inch single, “Answer to Myself” (the flip side being an irresistible cover of The Cure’s “Grinding Halt”), holds the distinction of being the last song streamed on our beloved WOXY.com before the plug was pulled last March; the band played an amazing 10 shows in a single day; and Nada Surf’s covers album, If I Had a Hi-Fi
, featured their spin on “Bright Side,” a song that dates back to the Pack’s Muslims period (before they converted — insert laugh track here).
The Soft Pack’s eponymous debut full-length dropped back in February, sounding like a rejuvenated Strokes with a newfound love and respect for Gang of Four, with flecks of all of their avowed influences bubbling up from the bottom of their Garage Pop cauldron. The only flaw in the 10-track disc is its half-hour brevity, but that’s why God and Sony invented the finger and the play button, respectively.
That’s not an option when the Soft Pack plays live and it’s a safe bet, no matter how long they play, their frenzied audience will be looking to hit “repeat.” Ten shows in a day? The Soft Pack should be more than ready to go all night.
The Soft Pack play The Mad Hatter Tuesday with Kurt Vile & The Violators and Purling Hiss. Go here for tickets and venue details.