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You Guys Aren't Ready for The Retrograde Yet... But Your Kids Are Gonna Love 'Em!

I love rock 'n' roll. It's the only genre that encourages the addition of a cold beer to not only enhance the listening experience, but complete it. Its the soundtrack of the summertime, it feels like rays of sunshine beating down on the back your already sunburnt neck and smells like a roaring grill on a Saturday afternoon; it just screams "honey, throw me a beer, I've got burgers to sear and a bitchin' riff in my ear!" But if you're anything like me, you can only abuse your favorite records so many times before the new vinyl scent wears off (or the grooves finally sand down). I can't grill out to the same songs every weekend, in just the same way you can't drink the same thing every night. You got to have some novelty, but nothing too crazy, something that feels nostalgic but totally brand new; something... retrogradian.


Tallahassee hard rock trio turned quartet, The Retrograde, have been teasing the release of their debut LP since November of last year through a series of in-studio candids, behind the scenes bloopers, and tongue-in-cheek tour antics. The snippets and leading singles certainly gave up glimpses of exciting things yet to come, comically offset by the band's inclination not to take themselves too seriously (if at all) when it came to their digital footprint, instead putting all their efforts into a stellar debut record.



That's The Spirit! is an easy rock standard; a ten-track record jammed tight with face-scrunching riffs and breakdowns that would surely warrant a cease-and-desist from Shmene Shmimmons should they ever don a face-full of white grease paint. The album hits every note a rock album needs, moving gracefully between choir and organ backed anthemic party jams, grooving blues rock downbeats and bass solos, and the over-compressed acoustic ballad closer; par for the course for any rock band worth their salt. It's a love letter to the greatest to ever do it, pulling heavily from the hard rock blues of the mid to late 1970's and the swagger and hair band-edness of the '80's.


With so many recognizable footprints, the Florida fellas find themselves toeing the line in some pockets between imitation and descendance, making it difficult for them to initially establish a direction or narrow in on a specific sound. The band bounces around from style to style for the first third-ish of the album, bopping and blending together different aspects of the party rock spectrum, picking apart the genre and reassembling the best pieces in such a way that would make Dewey Finn salivate at first listen (or concoct a killer rendish' of in the mid credits scene).


But they noticeably catch their stride in the middle third of the record, with "Come Around," "On a String," and the long awaited "If 6 Was 4." Its at this point in That's The Spirit! that the boys sound the most confident, the most sure of themselves and their sound than on any other part of the record. They begin to twist their beloved hair metal with more modern evolutions of blues rock, emulating the great Christone "Kingfish" Ingram and Gary Clark Jr., and incorporating a Dead-esque soft rock flavor; calculated polyrhythms, cryptic storytelling and all.


"On a String," however, sticks out like a sore thumb. While the rest of the album is baked and broiled in the salty, pungent cannabutter of the late '70's, this track somehow snuck itself out of the throwback bin, more closely aligning itself with the heavy pop rock racket of Neon Trees. It's a delightful sonic surprise mixed in with The Retrograde's more signature singles, like a hoppy, fancy little IPA thats been "mistakenly" sat in the same cooler as your dad's High Life's (the one he'll never admit he likes but might actually be his favorite).


Through all its references and homages, That's The Spirit! buttons itself up nicely. It's fresh, energetic and creative with a flair for stadium dramatics, but never loses all the bite, bark and bastardizations of bar rock aspiring to a world tour (or in some cases, a rousing bout of backyard karaoke). The Retrograde are undeniably talented musicians feeding the hard rock flames with every loose piece of kindling they got; a true hair band for the modern day. The youngsters are bringing the past back to the future, and you guys might not be ready for that yet... but your kids are going to love it!




Rob Lucchesi


The Retrograde

2 Comments


han gu
han gu
6 days ago

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