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CD Review: The Rhodes


Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:48 pm

The Rhodes Modern Sounds Of Northern Towns
(Independent , 2008)

If Hudson Valley quartet the Rhodes’ debut CD, Modern Sounds of Northern Towns, was programmed with LP surface noise, you would not be faulted for thinking it was a lost collection of circa 1965 Merseybeat gems. Unlike most bands who wear their influences on their sleeve, however, the Rhodes sound as if they are one-upping their Liverpudlian heroes with particularly swooping melodies, offbeat chord changes, and unpredictable, rich harmonies. The 10 tunes—which clock in at just under 32 minutes—amount to a bracing debut that sounds remarkably fresh, crackling with energy and boasting top-notch tunesmithery by guitarist Derek Daunicht and drummer David LaViola. Although, like their British Invasion antecedents, this band sounds weaned on the tight harmonies of the Everly Brothers, the pulse of Motown, and the mischievous ’tude of Chuck Berry, there is a modern, feral rawness that comes across on Modern Sounds.

“When Your Baby’s Gone” and “Shakedown” are full-on Cavern Club rave-ups, while the snaky, minor key “Sweet Shady Lady” and the mournful “Oh Angie” are delivered as only romantic 20-somethings can do. All four members sing with impressive chops and no song is without a seamless harmony (often two), even jokey ersatz country ditty “Joe, Johnny, or Jack.” Props go to producer Jon Stern, who knows songwriting like this doesn’t require additional bells and whistles. The fact that the Rhodes—all born in the ’80s—have put together such a committed, infectious addition to the power-pop canon, free of sampling, pitch correction, and other modern conveniences, is a marvel.

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