Ralph Covert and the Bad Examples ought to be a rip-snortin’, butt-kickin’ bar band, kicking out three-chord songs while not busily swilling whiskey and, I don’t know, eating hot dogs on fire or something. The cover of Smash Record suggests as much, as do the band photos featuring five shaggy, slightly-long-in-the-tooth guys proudly sporting chunks of a shattered Stratocaster. But here’s the thing: Ralph and the guys don’t want to be the next George Thorogood and the Destroyers. They want to be the next Beatles, which is a trickier ask altogether.
With a couple of exceptions — the exuberantly in-your-face “Your Ex-Girlfriend” and snaky “Devil Is in the Details” — the songs on Smash Record don’t measure up. Minor-chord bridges and sensitive singing are present in abundance, but little of it stands out, and it certainly doesn’t rock. Opener “Big E Chord” kicks off promisingly enough, but soon degenerates into somebody sounding like Oasis sounding like you-know-who. This happens altogether too often. Neither Covert’s voice nor the playing of the band is unusual enough to stand out from the crowd, and lethargic songs like “No Message in Your Bottle” and “Your Problem Now” do nothing to remedy this.