Full disclosure: I know the members of Lucky 33 personally. Even if I didn’t, I feel like I understand them after listening to the band’s first proper EP, Look Mah, We Did It.

Lucky 33’s path to is first proper release has been circuitous one. The Syracuse, NY four-piece prides itself on it’s near-constant live performance schedule. They’ve opened for The Suicide Machines, Anti-Flag, Badfish and Sponge, playing dozens of shows in the Syracuse region in between. Bassist Jared Francisco says that their aggressive live philosophy, coupled with trying corral four guys at different points in their lives, has made recording an EP a challenge.

a1369799935_10“It’s taken us a long time to release anything new,” he says. “We recorded an EP (in 2014-15) that ended up not being something we wanted to release, quality-wise. It didn’t represent us or our sound at all, so it was scrapped.”

A live show philosophy like that means that Lucky 33 is well-known in their circle, but unless you happened to be in the Central or Western New York area, it’d be hard for you to hear them. That might be part of the reason. Look Mah sounds like such a close recreation of the band’s live show. The easy genre classification for Lucky 33 is pop-punk; it’s on the same gruff-yet-catchy wavelength as The Bouncing Souls, The Vandals and Guttermouth.

The record filters these speedy tropes through the veil of a world-worn DIY band trying not exactly to “make” it, but to at least get by. “Excigency” captures the cognitive dissonance of slaving through an unending work-week in order to play one’s passion for free (“I will play and I will sing / for free / for the rest of my life.”). “Caffeine” is a picture of the specific kind of repetition and low-level regret that feels even more crushing when the surroundings never change. These are songs that look starkly and honestly at the plight of being a part-time rock band, bearing witness and offering no answers other than to keep doing it because it’s fun.

0006761461_10The hooks on “Paycheck” and “Roo” are informed by years spent playing live shows and understanding that earworms motivate audiences. Even “Paycheck,” which might be least hopeful song on the record, is wrapped in a power-pop bounce that sneaks bad times in on a Trojan Horse of catchy, bouncy guitars. The way Francisco tells it, this is by design.

“We’ve always considered ourselves a live band,” he says. “The challenge for us was to have a recording that captures our live sound. Eric Pinales of The Bournes drove from Rochester to Syracuse each Sunday to track with us, and he was able to [recreate that live sound] for us.”

In the lead up to recording the EP, members of Lucky 33 built a make-shift recording studio Franciso’s basement. The band found an engineer who was willing to drive three hours round-trip to record them. They cut Look Mah in between disparate work schedules, families and an active live schedule. Lucky 33’s first proper release reflects the band’s never-die attitude; it’s a record that recognizes that this shit is hard, but they’re harder.

You can listen to the EP on Bandcamp. Lucky 33 is on Facebook.

 

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