Roy – Big City Sin and Small Town Redemption (CD)

Coming out of virtually nowhere, this Pacific Northwest band wows and amazes with their impressively introspective and emotive type of power-pop music. Beginning “Big City Sin…” with “Something that’s Real”, which has an driving beat that is unparalleled along with a lush production and proper harmonization. Coming in smoothly between the country-tinged alt rock of The Weakerthans and the alt country of Drive Til Morning, Roy proves much with this, their first full-length album. Every part of the band works so well together – in the bridge for “Wipe that Brow” the bass and guitar seem to be one instrument, and the drums flutter in and around their combined sound. While some of the songs, such as “Better Head North”, begin to verge more on the line of Jethro Tull-esque progressive rock, the effort and emotion is there to really make these artistic leaps fit on “Big City Sin…”

At times sounding like Conor Oberst, albeit with a much more talented band around, Roy is a band that has all of the positives of alternative rock, emo, and power punk while espousing very few of the negatives that are associated with the respective genres. What really is a high point on the disc is “Never Getting Married”, Roy’s take upon the malady that LGBT people face after getting together and not being able to getting sanctioned under a government or (most times) a church authority. This CD has something for everyone, whether it be the depressed, mope rock anthems or the radio-friendly power pop tracks (They Cut the Chord, Anytime Now). However, Roy goes through these different sound unscathed, and is as powerful in one style as they are in the others.

The aforementioned “Never Getting Married” is in reality just a slowed-down version of an Justin Sane song, albeit with someone who can actually sing as the lead vocalist. The acoustic guitar in the track meshes well with the protest song-delivery of the track, half sung, half spoken. Where Roy can use esoteric instruments to create a truly innovative song in some of the tracks on this disc, a simple track like “Never Getting Married”, using only an acoustic guitar, shows the versatility that the band has. While emo has been in its death throes since 1990 or so, bands like Roy and Bright Eyes before them have really kept the musical form afloat even after hacks like Story of the Year and Billy Talent, marginally talented bands as best, have popularly co-opted the genre’s title.

Top Tracks : Never Getting Married, Something that’s Real

Rating: 8.0/10

Roy – Big City Sin and Small Town Redemption / 2004 Fueled By Ramen / 14 Tracks / / / Released 27 January 2004 / Reviewed 08 February 2004

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Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University. I have been the editor at NeuFutur / since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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