June 19, 2018 The Record Company – All Of This Life (Album Review)
Is a second album just more of what helped a band hit it big with listeners? Maybe, but fans that found The Record Company need not worry. From their first recordings made placing microphones around a Los Angeles living room, success changes some things, but the band’s gritty Blues Rock blood stays pure. What was triumphant on those first recordings was the sound creating their own destiny, and now The Record Company drops All Of This Life on Friday, June 22, 2018, via Concord Records.
Damn what a ride so far for Frontman Chris Vos, who handles most lead vocals, guitars, lap steel, pedal steel, and harmonica. Alex Stiff takes bass and guitars, and Marc Cazorla is on drums and piano. All three pull vocal duties, making for a rich sound, but for anyone that has seen the live show, listeners know these guys trade places and instruments regularly. This is an old-school Rock party, coming together by force of will and talent for sure.
Connection to a larger set of complications came with success, Chris Vos recently commented; and The Record Company is getting more complicated in the best possible ways. After the achievements of their 2016 record Give It Back To You, which found three tracks in the Top Ten, radio hits – including the smash “Off The Ground” – launched them into the festival circuit. It also had The Record Company sharing the stage with the likes of John Mayer and My Morning Jacket, among others.
What did not change? Preproduction for All of This Life started at home before moving to Boulevard Recording in Hollywood, California; with an array of analog recording equipment an eclectic production quality was possible, also stepping up their game. Like going from playing bars to Madison Square Garden in the course of eighteen months, the new album was recorded in a studio that was host to Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, and The War On Drugs. Self-produced, the grit is still there, though the barroom is long gone.
Translating the energy in a live show with The Record Company into an album, these ten cuts reflect more risks that deepening success can afford a band. “Life To Fix” pulls the ripcord, plunging right in with killer guitar, drums, and bass coming together. One of the great aspects of this band is each individual is a great musician, all interchangeable; all sing vocals, either lead or back-up, creating a sound that is oh so much more than a trio. Thematically, this is a tornado of positivity and it feels great from the first drum beats of “I’m Getting Better (And I’m Feeling It Right Now).” It is hard to imagine Vos in the studio playing harmonica, and if listeners have ever seen him live they will understand! Or maybe the sound we hear is the joy they feel, and we all feel and hear it too.
An evolution has occurred with The Record Company; climbing the ladder has brought about a depth to their lyricism that matches a band whose desire is to be the best live band fans will ever see. Furthermore, The Record Company is among one of the best Blues Rock bands becoming more. Period.
Still primal, “Goodbye To Hard Life” embraces that which was. Capturing the cool of analog, fuzzed out vocals mesh with a lusher vibe with great guitar work. Taking a record recorded in the living room to recording in a space where some of the greats of Rock did, magic happened. Albert Einstein said in the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity. The Record Company grabbed it by the short hairs, wrestling into submission every challenge; anthemic, simple, with ripping lyricism, this is a strut with a Blues Rock beat. Complete with falsetto punctuation, there are definitely no regrets here, with slide guitar magic.
Definitely no identity crisis here, “You And Me Now” is that soft resting point to come home to. Rock is refreshed and a ballad like this is stripped back and authentic; keeping the instrumentation subtle here, allowing the songwriting to shine is a smart production choice. Following it up with “Coming Home” is sequencing genius; great albums are puzzle pieces of sound, and this cut kicks off with a drumbeat, though this is a party centered around piano and guitar. Furthermore, guitar riffs echo with gang vocals surrounding listeners in the identity of a band who know themselves inside and out. This is Rock; if listeners have been away, welcome home!
“The Movie Song” twists in a funky direction, poking fun at their hometown, Los Angeles, and its finest qualities. Listeners can put together cliché Los Angeles, that place people go to get famous, with a band who calls that place home yet who has become famous after years of touring and hard work. Got the picture? This is a Rock party after all, and “Night Games” is that bass-driven mood music fans love. In Alan Parker’s Academy Award-winning 1991 film The Commitments, Soul music is called the music of sex; this cut proves that statement true. Raw, primal vocals, Chris Vos delivers the lyrics with an understated connection to gritty animalistic emotions. The stellar analog is cool, for sure!
Keeping it real, the trio slides back into “Roll Bones” taking it to the outlaw in us all – suits in the closet, Harley Davidson in the living room, or house in the suburbs. A short hit driven by slide guitar and anthemic lyrics, a longer version of the track would be perfect for the soundtrack for AMC’s Ride With Norman Reedus. Closing out with “I’m Changing” and its prophetic lyrics, it does not feel like Chris Vos, Alex Stiff, or Marc Cazorla are proving one fact; these three men know they fit together. Introspective, softer, this is the perfect closing statement.
The takeaway here? Greater success still has The Recorded Company beginning their second release in the living room; self-produced and following some of the best of what has gotten them to this moment. The band are set to give it back to listeners in the form of new music that could echo the sound of their early performances in clubs and bars around their hometown. Band members reflect that the strengths of one of them fit the weaknesses of another, a jigsaw puzzle of Blues Rock.
Ultimately, All Of This Life by The Record Company is an analog masterpiece. Put together by a story motivated by perseverance and common dreams that three friends who play music have together, this is a listener’s dream come true. That is why CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.