Another dumb bio about another dumb indie band from some dumb un-rock & roll place between other dumb places like Dallas and Albuquerque? Hardly.
Heres why: The Rich Hands Jealous Guy is the pop-stickiest 177 seconds youll likely ever hear. No shit. Ill be the first rock critic on earth to call it single of the year. I dont even care if it never gets released as an actual single. It should be. So shut the fuck up. The song rivals the brilliant Babysitter by the Ramones, a heart-busted ditty recorded years before any of these Rich Hands dudes were born. If thats not enough, the final word on Jealous Guy lands purposely and beautifully on a sour note: I-I-I-I-I-I-I am a jealous guy). Get it? Now thats a classic-in-the-making, kids.
And then theres Sugar and Stranger and oh, Christ, each of the 11 songs on Dreamers, the bands brand-new debut LP, could be a damn single. Each is crammed with sugar-punk riffs and gloriously scrappy Brill Building nods (including wah-oohs!), pop-delicious melodies and lead vocals that sound like a young John Lennon (yes, young John Lennon). Themes canvas teen-spirit innocence and loss (My bad girl/I love you so) but are backed with straight-up truths of boredom and meaninglessness (I dont wanna get outta bed/Im just too fucking lazy). Dreamers is rough-hued joy, an 11-song stunner where everyday is Saturday and ice cream is for breakfast and beer and smokes are dinner. Band songwriter-guitarist Cody Mauser calls The Rich Hands brand of pop a chemical reaction that causes an explosion of love right in your face. There you go.
On stage The Rich Hands are a fist-jacking power trio, a bottlenecked reaction against the dull South Texas world that surrounds them. They know that rock & roll only works if its reacting against something. Theyve done their homework. Hell, Cody even wishes he was born in the early 50s so he couldve been in my prime for the 70s but still basically been alive for the beginning of rock & roll. Cody, by the way, sports a macabre predilection for Robert Graysmiths Zodiac books and says he grew up on his old mans Ozzy and Sabbath records. Wait. What?
Running buds since high school, Cody, bassist-vocalist Matt Gonzalez and drummer Nick Ivarra, had played in few other bands but no one really cares. They certainly dont. After coughing up a couple 7 singles that sounded like rediscovered 60s gems, lots of people began to care about The Rich Hands. Lots and lots. Detroits mighty Fountain Records stepped in, signed them and hence the debut LP.
Sure, the Rich Hands are dreamers; theyre young, loud and sorta snotty. It shows. They love Mick and Keith too, and old T. Rex and Neil Young 45s. They love Jaws and Almost Famous. They love choruses that ping-pong inside the skull for days. They love spending nights drinking beer and making sure you ash before you pass, bro.
So how does an ear-bending power-pop band rise out of a rock & roll wasteland such as San Antonio? Ask them and youll get looks of bored indifference. The band is too modest to even realize theyre the coolest thing outta South Texas since southpaw guitarist-badass Barbara Lynn soothed souls and broke hearts back in the early 60s.
-Brian Smith, 2013