Pete Mancini's first solo outing, Foothill Freeway, rightly garnered praise from the likes of NPR. The album is a contemplative piece, but Mancini shines live. Whether he's fronting his own band or playing bass with New York blues-rockers Leland Sundries, it's clear that Mancini is here to serve the music -- not the other way around. His lyrics are powerful stories about life on the margins and his soft touch gives the songs an an important sense of humanity.
The set starts with two songs of Mancini singing solo. "Foothill Freeway" and "Rented Room" are poignant story songs that deserve your focus. As the band joins Mancini for the rest of the album, we're still attuned to Mancini's voice as it cuts through the noise -- both musically and lyrically. It's easy to hear Mancini's punk roots -- particularly in the band's breakneck cover of "Mama Tried." But 90s bar band greats like the Gin Blossoms and Replacements haunt the stage, helping Mancini to soften the blow and twist the knife as he gives life to his characters.