Edging closer to the mainstream
There’s no better feeling than grabbing the moment and taking advantage of it, and for Los Angeles-based rock group The Record Company, it is something that the trio has done effectively. Over their decade-long career, the band has accomplished a lot, including the release of two successful albums (Give It Back to You in 2016 and All of This Life in 2018), opening for acts like John Mayer, B.B. King and Social Distortion, and even receiving a Grammy nomination in 2017. Now, the group is back with their third full-length album, Play Loud, an eclectic piece that finds themselves drawing inspiration from other genres like soul, funk and pop while still maintaining their scruffy, blues origin.
The album starts with the upbeat, groovy track “Never Leave You.” Almost immediately, the funky guitar riff hooks people in, leaving them anticipating what’s to come. The rhythm section lays down a distinct disco vibe, which can also be heard in the lead singer’s Chris Vos’ falsettos throughout the chorus. As Vos sings lyrics like “I’ll keep searching for answers/ Find a place in the sun/ Forget the things that I’ve done,” the blues-inspired guitar riffs support Vos’ smooth, jazzy vocal range, making this track one that people could easily nod their head or tap their feet along with the beat.
The next track, “How High,” is the lead single from the album, and from the beginning, it is obvious why they chose to go this direction. The distorted guitar riffs, simple and steady rhythm and strategic placements of vocal highs and lows throughout the song continue along the smooth, funky feeling established in the previous song, proving that they know how to make their sound authentic while still being radio-friendly. It is important to note, however, that though none of these elements are necessarily bad, their sound could easily be mistaken for those by the well-known rock group The Black Keys or even newcomers like the British rock duo Royal Blood.
As the album progresses, it is where the group’s versatility in genres is able to thrive. “Out Of My Head” switches back and forth between garage-like rock licks and soft piano ballads, but here, Vos’ vocal range and power are best shown as he belts, “You got me coming and going/ You got me out of my head,” adding a layer of emotional depth to otherwise simple lyrics. And while “Live As One” is certainly repetitive, the soft piano notes and Vos’ deep croons allow for the lyrics to get stuck in one’s head, and you can’t help but sing along.
The most notable song on Play Loud is “Get Up And Dance!” which definitely puts the title into action. Sometimes, people hear a song, and they know that it is a great one for getting people to dance, whether it’s at a live performance or played on the radio; this song is definitely it. The rhythm section brings a little funk to this song while the guitar is loud and fuzzy like a garage rock band, while the piano brings a little old-time rock and roll sound, making it an all-around fun—and yes, danceable—track.
There’s nothing worse than a band repeating itself with the same formula in their songs, which this trio is definitely aware of. While Play Loud does have its moments of repetitiveness, there are also moments where they are able to push away from their blues-rock boundaries and expand their sound, leaving something that old and new fans alike can enjoy. That, in itself, is a win for the group.