Solid album from Dallas/Fort Worth Rockers.
According to their biography The Roomsounds, hailing from Dallas/Fort Worth, have drawn comparisons to Alex Chilton/Big Star, R.E.M, and Tom Petty. Listening to “Good Company”, their latest album release, it’s easy to hear why. Anyone who is a fan of those bands is likely to find this album of interest.
The band are really a rock and roll band with nods to Americana – 1970s Rolling Stones would also be a reasonable comparison, so there’s a lot here to like for those that take their Americana on the rockier side.
It’s interesting to note that The Roomsounds have been around for some time and recorded their debut album back in 2012, which they followed up with a second album, recorded at Fame studios in Muscle Shoals, in 2016. Since then, it seems the band had gone a bit off the boil, and this is being touted as a return to form and time to get back out there and remind audiences that the band is still going strong. On that basis, this isn’t a bad calling card. It’s nothing new or clever, just a solid, basic approach and a few good songs – and one or two not so good.
This album is definitely one that grows on you. On first listening it really doesn’t sound anything special; there’s nothing wrong with it but it doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Repeated listening pays dividends and reveals a solid set of well-written songs, with some real gems in among the more standard rock tracks. The stand-out tracks, for this reviewer, are ‘Win, Lose or Draw’, which sounds like an autobiographical take on the “musician on the road” experience, and the quite excellent ‘Waiting Out the Storm’. The former shows how good dynamics can really elevate a song. It also shows that The Roomsounds can handle laid back as well as they handle all-out rocking. It starts acoustically, and with some nice harmonies, and builds steadily into a really good track, full of tinkling, bar-room piano and a good drum sound. ‘Waiting Out the Storm’ is one of those “coming of age” songs that simply has a great, jangly, Byrds-like sound to it; a real celebration of teenage life that many will be able to relate to, and it shows what a good songwriter frontman, Ryan Michael, can be.
The rest of the album has its ups and downs. There are no bad tracks but there are one or two that come across more as filler, songs like ‘Lightning’, which boasts a great chorus but the verses sound predictable, and the oddly Oasis sounding ‘Blame it on the Liars’. There’s a lot of good instrumentation on the album and The Roomsounds are, clearly, a tight unit. Guitarist Nick Snyder is, apparently, a new addition to the band and he contributes some excellent work, most notably on the stand-out tracks but also on ‘Uptown’, with its extended guitar outro, and on ‘Spinnin’’, with its distorted, choppy intro. The keyboard work throughout is also impressive, with some nice organ work on ‘We Can’t Lose’ and great, Nicky Hopkins style rock piano on straight-ahead rocker ‘In Over My Head’.
Production on the album is by John Pedigo who is, apparently, an established producer and engineer on the Dallas scene, and he does a fine job of keeping the instrumentation in balance and letting Ryan Michael’s voice come through clearly. It’s a good voice and deserves to be front and centre; the whole album hangs together well. All that said, there still feels like there’s something missing. This is a good band, with a good sound and some decent songs, but they’re not coming across as an exciting and innovative unit and it’s hard to pin down why. The name certainly doesn’t help – it sounds boring and a little conventional and doesn’t suit a tight, rock band like this one. Perhaps they should’ve re-launched with a new identity, though it’s understandable that a band wants to hang on to a well-established reputation. Given that established record and the quality of the musicianship, you have to feel that this is a band that excels on the live stage and there is a suspicion that a more live feel to the recording, or perhaps a genuinely live album, might capture the essence of this outfit a little better.
“Good Company” is a good album from a solid band and that’s a good thing in itself – but it is hard to shake the feeling that it’s not quite the album it could’ve been. The album does get better with each listen and it’s certainly one to check out but there is that feeling that this is a band that could produce something extraordinary and that this album isn’t it. The Roomsounds are a band to remember – even if you also wish they were a band that would change its name!
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