Tag Archives: River City Extension

River City Extension Delivers Again


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River City Extension Deliverance Album Review

New Jersey’s River City Extension broke through in 2012 with a fantastic sophomore album release, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger, an album that finished the year in the Top 5 albums in our annual album of the year feature. Finally, we get to see their follow-up release, and it was worth the wait.

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On Deliverance, their third album, we clearly see a band progressing through changes.  They were a diversely talented octet a few years ago, and have since pared down to a more manageable quintet. Still, the music of River City Extension is as diverse and creative as we’ve grown accustomed to.

With Deliverance, they open the next chapter in their musical odyssey, and it promises to be an exciting one. The new offering, via Anchor & Hope Records still boasts an ample serving of the eclectic indie folk rock feel that sets River City Extension apart from so many of their peers, and it also offers some brave new twists.

As we’ve come to expect from front man Joe Michelini, the first pass through the album is like listening to a new indie-folk rock playlist on shuffle – each song a surprise, usually captivating in its own way and typically very different from the predecessor.

The album, which hits the streets Tuesday, March 10th, kicks off with an excellent rocker, “Something’s Gotta Give.” It’s beautifully arranged, multi-layered chaos that is an absolute joy to listen to. The guitars and strings are perfectly-placed and masterfully diverse, the lead vocals and harmonies catchy as hell. It might be the best song on the album, but there’s plenty more of substance on here, as well.

I also loved the rockabilly feel of “Ohio” an instantly comfortable song carried along by excellent drums and some nice strings, and the bouncy folksy sound of “White Blackmail.” “Vox Populi” is an intriguing offering, as well; the track starts with a tremendously subdued opening, then explodes into an angry, passionate rocker, punctuated by Michelini’s grittiest work on the album.

“Indian Summer” is a track that truly captures the essence of the band.  Michelini’s vocals are tender and vulnerable, the strings understated yet attention-grabbing and combined perfectly with hard-driving drums. The transition from ballad into hearty rocker is just wonderful.

On the softer side, “Man Of Conviction” is a nice showcase for Michelini’s evolving vocal prowess, while the stark “Deliverance Pt. 2” takes his vocals to a naked and vulnerable extreme.

Is Deliverance as good as Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger?  Probably not, but it delivers an absolutely fresh and welcome cut at rock ‘n roll that deserves a spot on your new music radar.

Rock On!
Cretin

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River City Extension Surfaces with New Song

River City Extension Readies New Album

I remember walking through the Social in Orlando a few years ago after wrapping up an interview with the sadly under-appreciated Drowning Men. On my way out, an eight-piece band crammed onto the postage stamp sized stage captured my attention.

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River City Extension were pure genius, a talented collection of diverse musicians playing their own very unique brand of rock music. So, I grabbed a beer or three and settled in to see what they were all about. (See that review here)

On that night, the talented band members traded off between at least fifteen different instruments, including trumpets, violins, mandolins and banjos.  Guitarist Joe Michelini fronted the octet, wrote the music and handled most of the vocals, although there were a few nice boy/girl arrangements. He has a distinctive voice, which was one of the highlights to the critically acclaimed album they were supporting on that tour. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger was a masterpiece that finished #3 on our Best Albums of 2012 year-end review. And, for the three years since, we’ve been waiting for the new release.

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Well, the wait is just about over, as their new release, Deliverance will hit the streets on March 10, 2015.  The new album features ten tracks and boasts a new feel for the band as New Jersey native Michelini is working in more of a pure collaborative band atmosphere.

To get a glimpse of what the new quintet sounds like, take a listen to the first song off of the album, “Something’s Gotta Give.” It’s definitely a different feel from their last album, offering some of the traits that made Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Anger so special, while at other times moving in a totally new direction. I’m tempted to say that it’s a bit cacophonous, but in an all so endearing way. Interesting stuff. Check it out: Something’s Gotta Give

Rock On!
Cretin

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂

 

Deliverance Album Cover
Deliverance Album Cover

 

Track Listing:
01) Something’s Gotta Give
02) Man of Conviction
03) Ohio
04) Indian Summer
05) I Wouldn’t Worry
06) Deliverance Pt. 2
07) Girls
08) White Blackmail
09) Vox Populi
10) I’m Not There

Top Rock Albums of 2012


As I looked back on the 2012 rock landscape and reviewed the year’s best rock music, I realized that I’ve definitely become more of an Indie Rock fan over the past few years. 2012 brought us lots of great Indie rock, but we also heard some rocking albums in the mainstream.  You may see a few albums here that you’re not familiar with, but I implore you to check them out. You’ll open your ears to some killer new rock, and impress the hell out of your friends. (After each selection, you’ll find a link to check them out on iTunes as well as our recommendations if you just want to grab a few tracks off of each album).

So, here are the Farmer’s Dozens in reverse order. The two dozen best rock albums of the year:

Bonus Selection: Each farmer’s dozen comes with a bonus, so here are two:  Grouplove,  Never Trust a Happy Song and The Black Keys, El Camino.  Both of these albums would be at the top of our 2012 list… if we had not already recognized them in 2011.  Here’s our Top Rock Albums of 2011, to see what else we visionaries were thinking last year.

24. The Lumineers, The Lumineers – Impressive debut album from these “pop-folk” rockers out of Denver. Best tracks: “Hey Ho” and “Stubborn Love.” The Lumineers - The Lumineers

23. Lovedrug, Wild Blood – These Indie rockers out of Ohio are powered by Michael Sheppard’s unique voice and a nice Kickstarter campaign. Best tracks: “Premonition” and “Ladders.” Wild Blood - Lovedrug Read our full review

22. Halestorm, The Strange Case of… Lizzy Hale’s powerful vocals lead the way for these masterful metal rockers. Best tracks: “Love Bites… So Do I” and “I Miss the Misery.” The Strange Case Of... - Halestorm

21. Green River Ordinance, Under Fire – Great rock ‘n roll harmonies from this quintet out of Forth Worth.  They offer up a diverse selection of tunes on another self-funded effort. Best tracks: “Dark Night” and “Lost in the World.” Under Fire - Green River Ordinance Read our full review

20. Mumford and Sons, Babel – A nice follow-up to their hugely successful 2009 release Sigh No More for these barrier-breaking folk rockers.  Best tracks: “I Will Wait” and “The Boxer” (Simon and Garfunkel cover). Babel - Mumford & Sons

19, Dinosaur Jr., I Bet on Sky – The Massachusetts Alt-Rockers continue to put out solid Alt-Rock with their distinctive brand of guitar rock. Every song is good on this one. Best tracks: “Rude” and “Pierce the Morning Rain.” I Bet On Sky - Dinosaur Jr.

18. Luke Dowler, Polarized – Dowler’s music offers raw vocals with an urgent passion, mixed with poignant lyrics about world affairs, relationships and deep personal faith: Good stuff from Big Sky Country. Best tracks: “Polarized” and “Gun.” Polarized - Luke Dowler Read our full review

17. Jack White, Blunderbuss – White breaks away from the shackles and structure of his former band mates in The White Stripes and Raconteurs and it works nicely. Best Tracks: “Love Interruption” and “Trash Tongue Talker.” Blunderbuss - Jack White

16. The Shins, Port of Morrow – Fantastic lyrics, beautiful harmonies and rock and roll that just oozes likability  I just wish these New Mexico natives would put out album more often than every four years. Best tracks: “Simple Song” and “It’s Only Life.” Port of Morrow - The Shins

15. Muse, The 2nd Law – The band, built for stadium rock, took some chances on this, their sixth release. This stuff is nothing like what we’ve heard from them before, but it is intriguing and captivating. Best tracks: “Madness” and “Survival.” The 2nd Law - Muse

14. The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten – Talented New Jersey rockers who offer up their most polished record to date. Strong heart felt rock and roll with excellent lyrics. Best tracks” “Too Much Blood” and “45.”  Handwritten - The Gaslight Anthem Read our full review

13. The Killers, Battle Born – Brandon Flowers and the band never disappoint.  One of the year’s best produced albums and it shows the band moving in a more mature direction. Best tracks: Runaways” and “Miss Atomic Bomb.” Battle Born - The Killers

12. Neon Trees, Picture Show – Everybody talked about “Everybody Talks,” but this album was much more than one hit.  Tyler Glenn is a future superstar and highlights his broad talent throughout the band’s third album. Best tracks: “I am the DJ” and “Everybody Talks.” Picture Show - Neon Trees

11. Django Django, Django Django – Hip, cool, groovy, rock ‘n roll with an oddly familiar feel considering this is the band’s debut. Mixes the best of the sixties, eighties and modern times. Best tracks: Default” and “WOR.” Django Django - Django Django

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10. Metric, Synthetica – From the opening lines of “Artificial Nocturne,” where Emily Haines offers “I’m just as fucked up as they say,” this album demands your attention.  Some deep introspective tracks disguised as excellent pop rock songs. Best tracks: “Youth Without Youth” and “Breathing Underwater.”

9.  Thousand Foot Krutch, The End is Where We Begin – The songs are positive Christian rock but these guys don’t slam you over the head with their beliefs.  It’s solid, active rock music that any hard rock fan will enjoy. A very diverse selection from a band returning to their Indie roots. Best tracks: “War of Change” and “All I Need to Know.” Read our full review

8. The Wallflowers, Glad All Over – Jacob Dylan continues to evolve as a musician and has never sounded better than he does now.  Excellent music with soulful vocals on a selection of tracks guaranteed to grow on you with each listen. Best tracks: “It’s a Dream” and “Reboot the Mission.”

7. The Drowning Men, All of the Unknown – They’re back with their second full-length album release, their first on Flogging Molly’s Borstal Beats label, which builds on the success of their fantastic debut album Beheading of the Songbird, and shows the talented quintet continuing to grow. These Indie rockers remind me a bit of the layered harmonies of Arcade Fire, with a clear West Coast U.S. bent. Best Tracks: “A Fool’s Campaign” and “Lost in a Lullaby.” Read our full review

6. Green Day, ‘¡Uno!‘ – Billie Joe Armstrong needs to be recognized as the prolific rock songwriter he is.  He and his longtime band mates never fail to put out good music and this is another prime example.  A great fresh punk/pop sound from our favorite So Cal trio. They released three good albums this year, this one was the best of the bunch. Best tracks: “Oh Love” and “Let Yourself Go.”

5. Fun., Some Nights – So much more than “We Are Young.” This masterfully produced album is a great vehicle for the talented vocal stylings of Nate Ruess and is packed with memorable addicting ditties. Jack Antonoff and Andrew Dost round out the trio and lend their voices to create impressive harmonies throughout.  On Some Nights, Fun. has developed a unique sound and carved a nice niche in today’s Alt-Rock landscape. Best tracks: Why Am I the One” and “Carry On.” Read our full review

4. Of Monsters and Men – My Head is an Animal. This talented Icelandic band has taken advantage of the revitalized interest in folksy rock courtesy of Mumford and Sons, but have kicked it up a notch.  Great, fun rock songs with amazing boy/girl vocals and meaningful lyrics; as well as a few tracks that are strictly fantasy adventures like the addictive “From Finner.” Best tracks: “Mountain Sound” and “Little Talks,”

3. River City Extension, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger – The second release from this talented octet out of New Jersey is a musical and lyrical journey well worth a listen. It’s a folk rock/Americana album packed with original sounds and with each listen a different track stands out. Joe Michelini, the band’s singer and guitarist is the primary songwriter and he takes us through a varied collection of memories. He offers: “Half of this record is love songs, and the other half is ‘I’m sorry that I fucked up’ songs,” and he writes about both in a compelling way. Best tracks: “Glastonbury” and “Ballad of Oregon.” Read our full review

2. Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball – I had just about written off the sage of the Garden State, but this is one of Springsteen’s best efforts in years.  The music is superb, and the lyrics even better.  It’s a bitter, but honest look at what Corporate Greed and idiot politicians have done to his country, and Springsteen pulls it off by surrounded the words with excellent music At times, he evokes memories of the E Street Band’s greatest anthems, at other times he has us heading down an entirely new path, such as the Celtic rock feel in the fantastic “Death of My Hometown.” Best other tracks: “We Take Care of Our Own” and “Wrecking Ball.”

1. Shinedown, Amaryllis – I loved “Bully” the moment I heard it and was pleasantly surprised to hear the excellent diversity on the rest of the album.  It’s aggressive, powerful, passionate rock that’s impossible to put down.  The Jacksonville based band has only put out four albums in their decade plus together, and each one has gotten just a little bit better.  Rolling Stone hated the album, which in itself is proof that it’s mainstream rock for the masses.  Amaryllis is one of the best hard rock albums in years and it’s packed with great songs.  Best tracks: “Unity” and “I’m Not Alright.”

There you have it – the best rock albums of 2012, according to me.  Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.

Click here for the Top Rock Songs of the Year

Rock On!
Cretin


RCE – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Your Anger

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You can’t go more than a few minutes on any Alternative rock station without hearing the latest folk rock band and their twist on Indie-Americana. So much of today’s music blends together, post-Mumford and Sons malaise, but the latest release from River City Extension, Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Your Anger truly stands out.  I’m guessing it never reaches the heights of Sigh No More, but it should, as it’s better and deeper.

The second release from this talented octet out of New Jersey is a musical and lyrical journey well worth a listen or two (or twelve). It’s an album packed with original sounds and with each listen a different track stands out.

Joe Michelini, the band’s singer and guitarist is the primary songwriter and he takes us through a varied collection of memories. He offers: “Half of this record is love songs, and the other half is ‘I’m sorry that I fucked up’ songs,” and he writes about both in a compelling way.

The album kicks off with Glastonbury,” a beautiful song that ebbs and flows magnificently as it builds up from a stripped down start to the full eight piece ensemble, then ultimately winds down with just Michelini on guitar and vocals. It’s a microcosm of the album and a good preview for what’s in store for the next sixty minutes.  Michelini’s vocals are damn near perfect, and showcase his broad range, both on the opener and throughout.  On “If You Need Me Back in Brooklyn” we hear a nice boy/girl duet with Sam Tacon, but for most of the album it’s all Michelini expertly carrying the vocals.

The musicians accompanying Michelini are quite talented, and the diversity of instruments offered is musical bliss. With superb production, we hear all eight musicians blend together perfectly, nicely highlighting each of the various instruments without overloading our senses.  Mike Costaney on drums and percussion offers an amazingly creative approach which is an absolute highlight of the album. Jenn Fantaccione’s cello is a refreshing change.  The cello is an under-utilized instrument in the rock world, but as River City Extension proves, there’s a definite place for it.  It was refreshing to hear, and one of the features that sets this band apart. You’ll also hear mandolin, trumpet, banjo, piano, melaphone and so much more – a feast for the ears.

There are a few cuts on the album that absolutely scream out for airplay.  Hopefully, we’ll be hearing tracks like “Welcome to Pittsburgh,” “Down, Down, Down” and “Point of Surrender” gracing the airwaves at some point in the future.

My two personal favorites highlight the diversity of the band, “Ballad of Oregon” is a fantastic introspective tune that spotlights all of the band members as it travels through Michelini’s troubled search for love; and “Lord I Have Changed” which is a stark introspective peek into Michelini’s past with him accompanied solely by Costantey’s drums, an interesting conclusion to an excellent album.

Don’t let this excellent new album pass you by, pick it up and give it a few spins. You’ll be happy to have found this Alt-Americana gem.

Rock on – Cretin

Related Story: River City Extension Live in Orlando

River City Extension. Photo credit: Danny Clinch
River City Extension. Photo credit: Danny Clinch

River City Extension Rocks Orlando

River City Extension LiveRiver City Extension Live at The Social

Earlier this week, I had one of those moments that all rock music fans covet. I was out at a venue reviewing one band and stumbled across another act on the bill that really caught my attention. I was out at The Social in Orlando checking out The Drowning Men, who were great in their own right (see the review here) when I had the pleasure of catching the dynamic eight piece River City Extension.

The octet out of New Jersey crammed onto the small stage and delivered an energetic and diverse set that I would best classify as a creative merging of Mumford and Sons and Gogol Bordello! It might sound unusual, but they pull it off magnificently. Over the course of the night, the six men and two women traded off among fifteen different instruments, providing quite the aural feast. At different times, they featured two drummers, two banjo players, violin, trumpet, mandolin and more; a welcome diversion from much of the cookie cutter stuff dominating the airwaves these days.

Led by front man Joe Michelini, the band focused their set on music from their excellent new release Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Your Anger. I spoke to Michelini briefly after the set and asked him how he would classify their brand of rock.   There’s no easy classification, which is part of the beauty to their unique sound. We settled on Alt-Americana, but you can check out the link below and make your own judgment.

They kicked off the show with “Glastonbury,” the opening track off of the album and followed that up with nine other cuts from the new album as well as a few selections from their two prior releases.

“Welcome to Pittsburgh” was an early highlight. The track has a beautiful, optimistic feel to it, as Michelini shows off his broad vocal range.  The most impressive features of the song were Nicole Scorsone on violin and Dan Melius on trumpet! The violin absolutely powers the song and Melius also contributes some fantastic trumpet work.  Good stuff!

“Point of Surrender” and “Ballad of Oregon” were two other songs of the same vein that were crowd-pleasing favorites.

This band is quite diverse and they showed off their versatility all night. Other highlights included “Slander,” a poignant tune in the vein of classic rock, “Our New Intelligence” a nice boy/girl duet, and the stark “Standing Outside in a Southern Riot” which featured Michelini and vocalist Samantha Tacon alone on stage.

It was a great introduction to a talented band that we should be hearing much more from in the years ahead.

Rock On – Cretin

Setlist

Glastonbury
There & Back Again
Welcome To Pittsburgh
Our New Intelligence
Point of Surrender
Standing Outside a Southern Riot
If You Need Me Back In Brooklyn
Slander
Nautical Sabbatical
Ballad of Oregon
Everything West of Home
Something Salty, Something Sweet