Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Len Price 3: Rentacrowd

The Len Price 3

Rentacrowd
Wicked Cool Records

Great stuff. Enough said.

Take the noise, feedback, and general chaos of the early Who, speed it up a little and compress it just enough so the delivery has punk sneer. How could it not be loved? It will remind you of when Paul Weller played his Rickenbacker like he meant it, slammed ale and shook his fist in the air instead of sipping his little cappuccino and strumming white soul. Let's face it, the track "Rentacrowd" sounds like "Subsititute." Alot. So what? It's brilliant! If you want to say you're a mod punk band, then that is what YOU SHOULD sound like! However, the lyrics are punk in their directness: "It ain't all about just the way you look. The clothes you wear and the drugs you took. It ain't all about the way you look. You're going nowhere. Going nowhere." Wow! That vocal harmony sounds like Pete Townshend, though.

It gets better! The followup track "If I Ain't Got You" is proof of rock 'n' roll. The British freakbeat plus what I think I'm hearing is a little bit of the cover of "Police and Thieves" covered by The Clash? The tempo change is dead on familiar, but hard to place. "Concrete Jungle" from The Specials? I think I'm just tapping the surface. Maybe some Rezillos and early Undertones in there? "Turn it Around" has the beat of "'A' Bomb in Wardour Street?" The answer to all of the above is a resounding yes. Brilliant! If you think it sounds too much like something else, you're missing what great rock 'n' roll is all about. Rock 'n' roll was never truly original to begin with, at least that's true for the best rock 'n' roll because it is not just rooted in, but remains closely tied to r&b. R&b spawned rock 'n' roll, rock 'n' roll spawned garage (also originally called punk), garage spawns punk. The better stuff always sounds like its predecessor and not just related to it. Honestly, many of us understand that good rock and roll is r&b/garage/punk mixed, but what makes it the best rock 'n' roll is how one can pick out those genres distinctly and not just hear the influence, making it all basic, simple rock 'n' roll. After all, everyone knows that the simplest is always the best. So if everyone steals some sound that came before them, why not do it right by making your foundation obvious? The Who and the first three Jam albums are damn good ones to start with. Most great bands had few influences. Ever heard of The Ramones? They were so predictable that it was once said that you listen to them, don't get that every song sounds the same at first, then after a while, you realize it's the greatest thing ever.

"Doctor Gee" is a Byrds inspired Rickenbacker classic that just sounds and feels great. Again, Enough said.

It's rock 'n' roll, not rocket science. Rentacrowd is '60s British beat thrown into the tightest tight 3 chord garage and a punk rock attitude. That combination is good enough. I take it back. It's perfect. However, '70s British punk expanded with enough bands that new directions were forged and new ways of playing that garage rock sound were invented. Similarly, Rentacrowd explodes with Glenn Page's raw, choppy guitar that gives the music more gut when combined with the tighter sound. Although it brings back memories of the late Stuart Adamson and The Skids, it's played with a lot of confidence, volume, and a faster rhythm that he might have not foreseen. The slower tracks like "Mesmer" and "Australia" recall the more ambitious experiments on "Pet Sounds." Although that's all too familiar territory, everybody tried to do something as good when it came out. Again, citing the familiar because it's the best.

Rentacrowd loud and fuzzy garage rock, tight, hook driven powerpop, and a tempo that runs circles around everyone else. Notice that bassist Steve Huggins maintains the same tempo for the whole three minutes on "Sailor's Sweetheart," dig how "Moonishly" drummer Neil Fromow pounds the skins on "Girl Like You." The music is instantly famaliar, but you hear more with each listen. Combine the music with "we know exactly what we're doing and we are who we are. Take it or leave it" attitude, which shows more determination to stick to one's principles, an ideal that epitomizes punk rock.

The "we play it because we like it and won't be something else to make you money" goes a long way. Although this ethos is a regular theme in Rentacrowd, the point comes home on "No Good:"

Listen to all you cunts
That want to put us down
Cos we don't conform to the latest sound
We don't care what you're thinking
We don't care whay you say
Cos when you're laying the boot in
We continue to play

Rentacrowd is rock 'n' roll: r&b, garage, British beat, and punk. Let's all hope they continue to do their own thing. Cappuccinos are for wimps anyway.

Len Price 3 - Rentacrowd





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