Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review: River City Extension - The Unmistakable Man

Every once in a while you'll see a band at a local show and you'll ask yourself repeatedly, "Why aren't they well-known?" This reviewer had that occur this past December at the Holiday Show at Cool Beans. The performance they put on that night dropped my jaw, how could a band this talented not get huge?

Well I'm pleased to inform you that River City Extension's first full-length LP, "The Unmistakable Man" is one of the best things to come out of New Jersey in quite some time. They are a band that is so full of energy and passion that you can't help but invest yourself in the songs on a personal level. Lead Singer/Guitarist Joe Michelini's lyrics remind me of the everyman tales from Springsteen's "Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ," one of the best debuts of all time.

The album starts off rather awkwardly however, with a truly unnecessary intro. In my opinion they would have been better off just starting right off the bat with the solemn vocals/guitar of 'Friends and Family.' One minute into the song and you have a good idea of what you'll be hearing the rest of the way; inspired playing, excellent singing and fantastic lyrical content.
The highlight of this album has got to be 'Our New Intelligence' which mixes excellent singing by both Michelini and Samantha Tacon, who go back and forth with such fervor that you know the song is going to explode at any moment. A very interesting "Pirate" bridge leads to the song transforming into one of the best songs Arcade Fire never wrote.

From that point on the album takes many twists and turns, some for the better, some for the worse. I'm not the biggest fan of religious lyrics and a few of the songs do in fact deal with that subject matter. Not to say that they're bad songs, I'm just not a huge fan of that kind of material.

Another top track is 'Mexico' which features an extremely mariachi-esque horn part that you won't be able to get out of your head. I've loved this song since I first heard it in concert back in December. It's so insanely catchy with top-notch playing from the band. It's songs like this that make "The Unmistakable Man" a truly memorable record.
This is an excellent debut full-length, by an excellent band, but if you truly want to experience the energy of these songs in the proper fashion, I implore you to see their live show. In a live setting, this 8-piece is truly a sight to behold, their shows are less concerts than they are parties, and you're guaranteed to leave with a smile on your face and a song in your head.

I'd highly recommend this LP to anyone who enjoys the heartfelt DIY-ness of bands like Modest Mouse, Spoon and Arcade Fire. If you like even just one of those bands, I promise you'll like what you hear on "The Unmistakable Man." This is truly American WildMan Rock, with a little bit of folk and punk thrown in for good measure.

River City Extension recently signed to XOXO Records and "The Unmistakable Man" is available on Amazon.com, iTunes and at their shows. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, you won't regret it and you just might find something great to add to your library.

Best Tracks:
Friends And Family
Our New Intelligence
Too Tired To Drink
Waiting in the Airport

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