Rock and Roll is too big to define
by Floco Torres
“Hey guys, we’re [insert band name] and we’re going to play you some Rock and Roll.”
You’ve heard it 100 times from touring bands at bars, and you’ve possibly been wrong when guessing what kind of Rock and Roll they’re going to play. Rock and roll doesn’t mean the same thing it meant in 1975 when Springsteen released “Born to Run” or when The Stones released “Let It Bleed” in ‘69. It wasn’t just about more guitars, it was about rebellion and the feeling it evokes.
Over time, the genre has become too big to identify by the name alone. Northeast Ohio has an abundance of pages in the “Rustbelt Rock” chapter of the history books, and bands from the area intend to follow in their footsteps to pay homage.
The Outside Voices newest project, “Big, Big EP” sticks to the script and is textbook Rock and Roll, whatever that means to you.
“Big, Big EP” is sturdy in quality of sound thanks to Neil Tuuri and his mixing and mastering skills. The Outside Voices have everything they need to execute the rock n roll band formula. JP Halling’s gravelly vocals lead this five piece band (three guitars, bass, drums) as it carries the EP through stories of bar banter, lovers that swoon over rockstars and a disdain for the world’s leading hipster mecca: Brooklyn, New York. Although the EP is four songs long, it’s big (pun intended) in terms of the space it fills. This is more “stadium rock” than it is “indie rock.”
On “Will You Cry,” the memorable howling vocal melody melts over massive drums by Sam Langstaff, doing all the right things to exude superstar status. “Kiss Me” is a standard bluesy ballad where JP appears to channel Dan Auerbach and probably whoever Dan’s been channeling all these years. The band’s performance on this track is a bit lethargic, and the long solo in the bridge takes away from the sexiness, but maybe that’s to be determined by the consenting kisser. “I Hate Brooklyn, ” a heard-it-all-before tale, closes out the record as JP wails “I don’t even know your name but I know where this is going.”
Lines like “When you kiss me, it tastes like whiskey” feel dialed in, but for the most part, “Big, Big EP” doesn’t stand out and it doesn’t push you away. It’s just Rock and Roll, and that might be too large to define. However, the band has all the components to look and sound the part and is cohesive enough to get you to the gig, which is a success in its own right. The Outside Voices don’t seem like outsiders at all. They seem very much in on the conversation here, and maybe that’s the punchline.
(Artwork on cover by Connor Elder/Elder Media)
Floco Torres thinks “Hip-Hop/Rap” has the same problem that “Rock and Roll” does but that’s another topic for another day.