Scantron's 'Electric City' Is a Four-Song Blast of Engaging Garage Rock
Philadelphia garage rockers Scantron continue their "single-slinging" tradition on the satisfying, riff-heavy new EP, Electric City.
14 February 2020
"Short, hot bursts of music with no in-between, no fluff." That's how Scantron founder, vocalist, and guitarist James Everhart justifies the band's insistence on forgoing full-length albums in favor of EPs and singles. "We love to follow the script of the old single-slinging of the 1950s and 1960s." It's an unusual way to release music, but it fits the band's sound. Call it power pop, call it garage rock – it's a back-to-basics style that can seem incongruous when applied to fussy, full-length albums. Their latest EP, Electric City, continues in that vein and won't disappoint longtime fans of the band.
Originating as a side project while Everhart and drummer Will Donnelly were members of critics' darlings Low Cut Connie (a band whose famous fans include Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, and Barack Obama), Scantron released music whenever time permitted until Everhart decided to quit the band in 2018. Electric City was recorded over a weekend in Philadelphia's Port Richmond neighborhood with Donnelly in the engineer's seat and Robb Matthews taking over on drums (joined by guitarist George Murphy, keyboardist Jared Loss, and bass player Tyler Yoder). The manic, raw energy is evident.
Opening track "Dreams" begins with the line "Some things never go away / Some situations just hold you in their sway" as the band's swagger seems to ape an almost psychedelic take on Britpop, complete with sneering vocals and Loss' vintage organ. There's an irresistible glam rock feel to "White Linen Sheets", as soaring chorus harmonies live comfortably among the gritty riffs.
Rounding out Electric City are the hip-swaying "Tip Top Inn", a modern-day update of Lloyd Price's "Stagger Lee", which sounds almost like a Mott the Hoople reboot, and the psych-rock punch of "In There / Out There", which is bookended by speedy punk riffs and a mesmerizing slab of glam rock at the song's core. This is one of those bands that sound like they spend an awful lot of their off-time curating a really good record collection.
Scantron isn't reinventing the wheel – they come across as die-hard defenders of raw, unvarnished rock and roll, along with all that entails. Electric City is a loud, fun, unapologetic tribute to the good old-fashioned roar of garage rock.