Rock and roll is still alive! That’s the message that Chris Vos of The Record Company had for the sold out crowd at the Mercury Lounge last Friday. And after about an hour of hearing them channel the powers of the bluesy rock gods while playing their debut album Give It Back To You and a couple wild covers, it was hard to argue that assertion.
I first came across their sound the day everyone was speculating whether or not the Foo Fighters had broken up. The website UPROXX had put together a list of artists who could fill a possible Foo-less void. Now let’s face it, no one will “replace” the Foo Fighters. But that wasn’t the point for me. Finding new music was. And the band that jumped right off that list for me was The Record Company.
The trio consists of Chris Vos on lead guitars, lap and pedal steel guitars, harmonica and vocals, Alex Stiff on bass, and Marc Cazoria on drums. Based out of L.A., these gentleman preach a “blues is the teacher, rock and roll is the preacher” (apologies to wherever I first heard that for my paraphrasing) sound. They took that uniquely American art form born of delta blues, perfected by such acts as John Lee Hooker and B.B. King and pushed forward by the classic rock sounds of bands like Led Zeppelin and the MC-5.
The band tours without any roadies or tech help. And that suits them just fine. It gives lead singer Chris Vos a chance to story tell while instruments are retuned and plugged in. You can see a passion for the music in those moments as Vos recounts how the band started from nothing, getting their chance when a music executive pushed their tracks on Sirius or how his momma raised on him on Muddy Waters.
The opening funkified bass line of “Off the Ground” serves notice that you’re in for something special. Then the drums kick in, all the while unrelenting. And Vos hits the crowd with lyrics like “Things are looking clearer than they’ve ever been. Don’t know how it’ll end but I know where to begin,” the crowd knows how it’ll end – with everyone in the Mercury Lounge wanting more.
The heartbreaking “Rita Mae Young” makes you wonder how Vos knew just how you felt when your muse left you. How you wanted to dedicate song after song to them at your local watering hole while you piled up bourbon shot after bourbon shot.
The Record Company’s songs are full of that stuff. The stuff that rock and roll was built on: adventure, rebellion, sex, and defiance. There is an infectious boogie that runs throughout all their songs and I can’t wait to hear what else they come up with. After all this was a night full of sweat, spilled beer all over the stage and floor, and swelling emotion proving, like Vos told the crowd earlier, rock and roll isn’t going anywhere.
And that night they gave the crowd a couple special moments. One was a cover that Vos said would be the only time they attempt such a song. One night after the passing of the incomparable purple one, The Record Company busted out their cover of Prince’s “Kiss.” Something that had barely practiced, Vos said. It forced Vos to ditch his normally deeper wail for a falsetto. It took some courage to do that, but the crowd was loving it. And being in New York meant they would bust out a cover that went viral for them on the internet, The Beastie Boy’s “So What’cha Want.” On the web they played it in a VW touring van. That night, the Mercury Lounge was so packed that you felt like you were in that van with the band.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go put their record on repeat for the next few months.
Article: Omar Kasrawi