Sunday, September 30, 2012

Review: The 71's "We Are The 71's"

The musical genre of rock n’ roll is defined by as: “A style of popular music that derives in part from blues and folk music and is marked by a heavily accented beat and a simple, repetitive phrase structure.” But let’s be honest with ourselves and agree, that definition captures nothing of the spirit of what rock n’ roll truly is.  For, rock music is music that is of the people, for the people, and, yes, by the people.  Its music of protest, music of love, music of passion that carries with it the hopes and dreams and emotions of the common man.  It is the genre of excess, an overabundance of passion spilling out and benefiting all who hear it and standing in stark, unfettered opposition to those who don’t appreciate it.

Texas-based rock outfit The 71’s embody this spirit and take it to the next level.  Owning this passion for the music, front man Keeton Coffman shares, “Music is not a quest for fame or a means to an end, it is the end itself.  We’re just four guys in search of rock and roll heaven … here on Earth.” The band's success began with 2009’s We Are Locomotive, which opened the doors to rising fame, seeing the band garner tons of airplay, having songs played by MTV, VH-1, BRAVO and more.  Additionally, they’ve been able to take their live show to huge audiences, playing shows with artists as diverse as Kris Allen, Sister Hazel, and The Robbie Seay Band.

And that fame is well deserved as is evidenced by the music found on this latest release, We are The 71’s. Originally intended as the final installment in their Rock and Roll Reaction Trilogy, a collection of EPs, the band instead chose to honor the blood, sweat, and tears with a full-length release.  The 71’s brand of rock n’ roll is visceral, vibrating out with an emotion that seeps radiates forth straight from the gut.  Its music that packs a punch yet manages to do so with poise and precision as well.  In fact, one of the most interesting elements found on this record is that, by and large, there are no extraneous elements to be found.  Every one of Coffman’s vocals and offerings are there for a reason alongside Ryan Cecil’s guitars, Jacob Lisenbe’s throbbing bass notes, and Tank Lisenbe’s pounding percussion.  Each note stands there with a purpose and offers nothing more than that.  It’s a strange element to be found in a genre known for excess but is one that elevates this music overall.

And elevate it is does.  From the raw, raging power of opener “Blue Blood,” the distorted vibe of “Confession,” or the garage rock of “Waves,” this album begins strong.  Coffman’s vocal delivery is particularly influential, rising from sonorous low notes to a full, raspy scream that is just what the doctor ordered.  The band provides some more able jams with the White Stripes feeling “Adeline,” accented with some nice percussion from Tank and solid backing vocals.

“10,000 Miles” finds the group offering up a lower key love song that builds from subtle beginnings to a rousing rocker while “Taken” is moody and big, with huge guitars, carefully placed feedback, and is simply one of the album’s greatest fist-pumping tracks.  “Victimology” keeps that same formula, opening with great moody notes before bursting out into full-on rock glory, rhythm guitars wailing and Coffman screeching into the rafters.  “Much Too Much” brings some contrast with falsetto backing vocals and a stop-and-start arrangement that’s solid.

“Prince” finds Coffman taking to that same falsetto with some “wah wah” guitar notes and pumping bass while “Lucky to Lose” is musically all over the place, dipping and diving here and there.  “Heaven” is an appropriately muted track, at least for this band, before building and allowing for a crescendo at the end as “Monsters” is an impressively expansive track, finding the band offer up elements of classic and contemporary rock, all stamped with The 71’s signature over ten minutes time.

We Are The 71’s is more than just an album for this band; it’s a declaration.  This is this quartet’s shout out to the world that they are here and they are going to make great music whether you like it or not.  With a sound that captures elements of the Foo Fighters, Muse, Jet, The White Stripes, and more, this is a band to keep on the radar.  The 71’s are here to stay.

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