RAC – RAC
2.) Wrecking Ball
4.) Honey Pot
5.) Patois Superstar
6.) Robbin’ the Grave
8.) 50 Strong
9.) Baby Face Devil
10.) Street Signs and Pipe Dreams
12.) Mary Admire
13.) Munchies in D
14.) And it Goes
The Pier Album Rating:
Release Date: April 14th, 2015
Official Website: RAC Website
Forming in Phoenix, Arizona in 2004, RAC is an early pioneer of the more heavily punk influenced “Desert Reggae,” and is one of the few bands we review that’s been around long enough to have had a myspace music page. Despite a brief hiatus, the lineup of Ben Florentine (Vocals, Guitar), Thomas O’Brien (Vocals, Percussion), Derek Pepper (Guitar), Matt Roberson (Drums) and Taylor Hawkins (Bass) has remained consistent for most of the band’s years. Before this release, the band put out two albums, Lost in Paradise (2006) and Heavy (2009) along with their 2011 EP, In.Hab.I.Tants.
I’ll tear this band-aid off quickly; the production quality throughout the album is rough at times.
It isn’t often that I’d rate an album with such a shortcoming so highly, but there are some bright spots that I came to appreciate after a few listens. Starting with “Doses,” it’s evident that RAC is no island-reggae band. The dark, reggae influenced guitar riffs paired with Ben Florentine and Thomas O’Brien’s edgy vocals create a unique tone that’s different from the generic roots or punk-pop sounds prominently found in today’s reggae.
There are hidden gems such as “Avalon,” “50 Strong,” and “Mary Admire” scattered throughout the album as well as appearances from quirky, seldom-heard instruments like the melodica on “Wrecking Ball.”
However, “Wrecking Ball” among other songs like “And it Goes” and “Patois Superstar” are examples of low points in the album, where the quality of the vocals are dampened by sub-par production values, making the songs more difficult to enjoy despite their strong backing instrumentals.
The album carries a consistently edgy sound throughout and showcases the originality and instrumental skills of the band members. You won’t find a looping up-skank or pop-rock vocal harmonies anywhere on this album, so anyone looking for a more classic punk sound will definitely take a liking to RAC.
Overall I found this album to be enjoyable in parts. As nice as it is to hear a more original adaptation of the reggae-rock sound, I couldn’t ignore the vocal shortcomings in some of the songs. I think with an investment in quality studio time and an experienced producer, RAC will be able to keep these shortcomings to a minimum and deliver a higher quality product. The band undoubtedly has potential, but after being together for ten years, one has to wonder if this potential is starting to slip away into the realm of missed opportunity. RAC may be content with releasing consistent music for their existing fan-base, there’s nothing wrong with that, but if they have higher aspirations for their music then a larger investment needs to be made. Whether or not this veteran band improves remains to be seen, but this album is a step in the right direction.
Written & Reviewed By: Andrew Aroche
[Editors Note: All reviews are reflective of the album in it’s entirety, from start to finish. These reviews are the honest opinion of each writer/reviewer expressing their feedback as a genuine fan of the music. Each star rating reflects their review of the album, NOT the band. Music is subjective. Regardless of the review or star rating, we encourage you to listen to the music yourself & form your own opinion. Spread the awareness of all music in its art & contribution]