Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this edition of the Independent Spotlight, we shine our gaze on Stolen Rhodes’ self-titled EP that was released around this time last year. The band describes themselves as “American or Americana Rock” with a tendency to turn things up to eleven. The genre classification they may be seeking is actually “Southern Rock,” pioneered by the same bands they cite as influences: Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Allman Brothers, and the like. Let’s dig into some of their new tunes to discern whether or not they do that lineage justice.
The sound of southern rock is widely classified as vintage classic rock at this point in the mainstream. Outside of the nightclub circuit, the popularity of the style has waned in recent years. Stolen Rhodes is immediately within its realm, both in look and sound. They look like a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band. Now, I’m not a fan of most southern rock, particularly because I’m not a fan of Skynyrd toting Confederate flags all over their stages. Stolen Rhodes’ music, however, embraces a much higher level of class. It’s slickly produced and quite well performed, something exemplified in the single, ‘Keeps Me Alive.’ That’s a really terrific rock tune. It’s one of those songs you could crank on a road trip driving down an empty, endless highway.
‘Gone’ may be an even stronger track than its predecessor, if not just due to its instrumentation. The song is insanely well performed; I imagine this music has to be absolutely stellar in a live setting. It is indeed “turned up to eleven,” driving Americana themes hard. At times, the outfit also feels like certain acts from the late 1970s and early 1980s - ‘Gone’ could be a track right out of a Foreigner session. ‘50 Miles To Richmond’ is an equally excellent song; I love these hard rock bands when they slow things down and strip their songs down. The acoustic outing here is immensely rewarding.
‘Down In Flames’ is very similar to ‘Gone.’ It’s basically a party song. I bet it’s awesome live, and it’s fun to blast. On any serious basis, the song may be a bit stereotypical or mundane. That’s okay, though, because it doesn’t seem to take itself seriously, so we shouldn’t either. ‘Life Was Never Finer’ is an elegantly executed track, exhibiting some of the best songwriting and guitar performance on the entire record.
‘Stolen Rhodes’ is an EP that enthusiastically holds onto a genre that is long past its heydey. It doesn’t feel desperate, though; it isn’t clinging onto dead themes. Rather, the EP is a celebration of what makes southern rock so fantastic. It has everything the genre has excelled in over the years, minus the Skynyrd-racism. That’s the way I like it; check them out below. They’re great.