Rise Up - EP
East Bay teen group Rikoche are arguably the Bay Area’s premier ‘70s-FM-rock-revival band. Unlike other bands with similar intentions (Free Energy), Rikoche do not augment their music with contemporary indie-rock influences or hipster grooviness. There is no Paul Sprangers smoothness to frontman Matt Barber’s voice--he’s a bad-boy growler in the purest George Thorogood fashion. The guitars are heavy and histrionic, with no polite strumming or monotone rhythm lines. Rikoche is a band that likes their music loud, simple, sexy, and nostalgic.
Rise Up is a fun album, and it’s definitely great radio material. The album allows for a breath of fresh air for classic rock-loving kids who would sooner be flayed alive than go within ten feet of a Morning Benders album. Barber’s voice is the dominant instrument, possessing an uncannily vintage sound and a toughness beyond the singer’s years. The guitar solos burn with fury and sexual energy. Everything sounds rough and tough, even the lightest moments (the surprisingly gentle ballad “Wanderer.”)
Yet there are two things that severely damage the music. One is a cartoonishly narrow worldview--rebellion against just about anything that displeases them, and a very Knack-ish attitude towards the female sex. (The latter has led to a large amount of controversy surrounding this band.) The other is the simple fact that they bring absolutely nothing new into either their own music or rock in general. This could be a good thing considering the purpose of this EP, but given the fact that the band members seem essentially designed by the music gods to play pure, vintage hard rock, a bit of eclecticism couldn’t hurt at all. These guys should consider calling up Danger Mouse.