Little Rock quintet The Revolutioners draw on legendary rock sounds of Zeppelin and the Stones with new EP.
What ever happened to rock? Not post rock or indie rock or [enter your descriptor here] rock. Just rock. Plain old rock, the musical offspring of R&B, country and the blues. Electric guitars. Bass and drums locked into a tight, 4/4 time signature. Soaring choruses. Authentic and loud music still willing to showcase a little skill and technique. Don’t forget some ear-candy hooks. And just the right amount of swagger. The soundtrack for an American muscle car going fast.
The genre still exists, though it has fractured and fused into countless other subgenres. Bands still play rock though. Enter Little Rock quintet The Revolutioners. Rock music is what one hears on the band’s debut recording, a four-track, self-titled EP recorded at DeSoto Recording.
The Revolutioners — Phil Houston on vocals, Ben Richman and Jackson Hagerman on guitars, Danny Praseuth on bass and Lance Berry on drums — formed in 2010, but the musical DNA of the group is found in defunct bands such as feisty country-rock stompers HWY 5 (Richman, Hagerman and Berry were all members of that group that broke up in 2010), and acts still performing such as Little Rock modern rockers Se7en Sharp. (Houston splits his lead singing duties between Se7en Sharp and The Revolutioners.)
The rock of The Revolutioners is the rock of bands such as Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, two bands that are cornerstones of rock, and newer acts such as grunge bands and Audioslave. But there’s no revival rock going on here with The Revolutioners; no, there’s a lot more in the group’s sound. Their debut — with all songs written as a band — might only be a four-tune, 14-minute EP, but there’s a lot of weight behind The Revolutioners’ meaty riffs and sing-along choruses.
“Love Punch” is the EP’s kick-off song, and the quickie tune (two and a half minutes) is a razor-sharp strike of rock that immediately proves that Houston has the necessary pipes for pulling off the rock genre. An effects-driven guitar solo that drops before the tune’s last run through its chorus is more evidence of the band’s competency when dealing with rock music. “Love Punch,” with its grinding intro and then lightning-quick riff, doesn’t waste a note with Richman and Hagerman’s guitars locking into step and powering the tune along, and Houston cries out he’s a “sucker” for the love of whatever girl he has in mind. The song reminds one of the raucous, aggressive rock of Buckcherry or even Buckcherry’s Mötley Crüe and Guns N’ Roses’ influences. There’s just that right amount of sleaze in the pop sound of “Love Punch.”
“Pop Rocks” finds The Revolutioners once again in late-1990s rock territory, before it became crappy post-grunge rock. As opposed to “Love Punch,” the tune breathes a little more, with the song kicking off with the strum of guitar and Houston admitting “she says that I’m overrated/Sh*tty-ass singer and I never could write a song.” The music that The Revolutioners play being rock, the girl is crazy, of course, and Houston and band go on to write a pretty great rock tune with one of those choruses that finds the vocals separating from the music.
“Like a Knife” is The Revolutioners channeling Candlebox — for both good and bad. The bad? The five-minute long song sounds like Candlebox. The good? The five-minute long song sounds like Candlebox. Does that makes sense? Listen, Candlebox is a band that fans of ’90s music realize diluted the heaviest of grunge and made the genre a little too commercial. But what did Candlebox dilute the punk and metal tendencies of grunge with? Pop. Darn-good catchy pop. No one can argue that “Far Behind” or “Cover Me” aren’t great 1990s rock tunes. Such is “Like a Knife.” Sure, the song is polished rock, but it possesses a memorable melody and some great blues guitar.
“No Name Btch” is another rapid dominance track, with Praseuth and Berry once again finding their groove and keeping it rocking as a twin-guitar attack glides over the soundscape. And “No Name Btch” features some harmony work from the band. The tune’s lyrical theme also recalls the lyrical themes of many rock songs: It’s all about sex. As Houston sings in the song, he’s told sex sells, and sex has been selling rock music for a long, long time.
Rock is not dead. Bands such as The Revolutioners still practice it, and it still sounds good.
SEE THE SHOW
The Revolutioners perform Saturday at Juanita’s. The doors open at 9 p.m. with the music starting at 10 p.m. Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 day of show. Also on the bill is Little Rock band Stella Luss, an act that plays rock influenced by the blues and psychedelia. The outfit released its debut album, Chasing Dragons, in 2012.