Los Angeles’ the Record Company established themselves as a rock band with a solid base in the blues on their first two albums. In particular, their first album, Give It Back to You, included a good amount of slide guitar, harmonica, and fat blues riffs that ZZ Top has mastered. The band left no question that it was steeped in the blues.
The Record Company’s new album Play Loud shows the sound branching out from the homegrown blues-rock of the first albums. Of the new LP, Alex Stiff said, “In the past, we were really insular. Everything was just us. We totally flipped the process on this record to allow for every idea and possibility, so it wasn’t just the three of us closed off in our bubble. It was like, ‘Let’s take some risks and see what we can really do.'”
You get a sense of allowing for every possibility in the very first song, “Never Leave You”. The rhythm section lays down a distinct disco vibe, which can be heard in the falsetto vocals. There’s still plenty of rock in the guitar. And hey, if KISS can dip its toe into disco with “I Was Made for Loving You”, then the Record Company can do so as well with this song.
The following three songs, “How High”, “Gotta Be Movin”, and “Out of My Head”, are also evidence of the band’s willingness to try every idea. All three feature distorted guitar and vocals and a steady rhythm. None of these are bad things, but the three songs are practically indistinguishable from songs by the Black Keys.
“Live As One” has a deliberate tempo and adds some piano and backing vocals. It’s a rock song with a soulful blues vibe running through it. It’s hard not to think about the Rolling Stones when you hear this one. It also has a positive message. At the beginning of the song, Chris Vos wonders “if we’ve just been lost trying to get by”. That’s a pretty succinct summary of what many of us have felt for the last two years. As the song progresses, he sings, “All that I wanted to say, we gotta live as one”, and you can’t help but sing along.
Sometimes you hear a song, and you know that it is a great one for getting people to dance, whether it’s at a live performance or played on a jukebox at a bar. This album includes one of those songs that is fittingly entitled “Get Up and Dance”. It’s easy to imagine a crowd in either venue loudly singing, “Please, please, get up and dance with me.” The rhythm section brings a little funk to this song while the guitar is loud and fuzzy like a garage rock band. The piano brings a little old-time rock and roll sound.
Play Loud is proof that the Record Company have grown. The members wanted to make an album different from their previous albums, and they accomplished that. Yes, the band still incorporate some blues into their fuzzy rock, but the sound is more expansive on this album. The result is a record that should be played loud, as the title suggests.