(Self-released, CD, digital download)
REDadmiral have been lurking on the margins of the Burlington scene for two years, honing their craft on smaller stages around the city, such as Manhattan Pizza & Pub and, on occasion, the Olde Northender. And theirs is a sound tailor-made for juke joints and dives. Blending the deep-cut eclecticism of album-oriented rock with the scuzzy grit of a garage band, REDadmiral seem well suited to their particular niche in the larger Queen City music scene. But that doesn't mean they don't have designs on graduating to a higher level of visibility. The quartet's self-titled debut album makes a strong case that REDadmiral are ready to do exactly that.
The only thing that might prevent them from taking the next step locally is that they don't boast a particularly hip or sexy sound. That's not to say it's a dated sound, necessarily — though an undercurrent of early 1990s alt-rock runs through the record. Rather, REDadmiral's offbeat brand of rock will likely appeal to a specific kind of listener.
Opener "East Jabip" is a revved-up blues-rock number whose melody owes a debt to the Knack's Doug Fieger. Front man Gordon Glover sings with edgy detachment over rumbling bass, crunchy guitars and a chorus of "fa la la" backing vocals at the singsong hook.
The rambunctious and bouncy "Bullet" recalls quirky 1990s popsters the Presidents of the United States of America, especially at the chorus: "Oh, you would make a good bullet."
"Drugs & Candy" bears shades of early Cracker in both tone and temperament — it's cheeky and twangy with just a hint of eye-rolling apathy. "What If" follows and is built on a tumbling riff from lead guitarist John Billingsley. That provides the foundation for multipart vocal harmonies on both the verses and choruses. It's a high point on the record.
The low point is "Kids Today," a lazily constructed reggae-rock song that attempts to skewer the millennial generation. Unfortunately, the cut bears little of the wit or ingenuity of the preceding tracks and comes off more like crotchety "Get off my lawn!" grumbling.
REDadmiral rebound on "Barbie's Plastic Army." Drummer Chris Giovanelli sets a skittering beat over which bassist Sam Crawford lays down plunging grooves. The song harks back to Sailing the Seas of Cheese-era Primus, which ain't a bad thing.
The album closes on twangy pop cut "Let It Go," which sounds something like what might happen if the Replacements' Paul Westerberg fronted Camper Van Beethoven. It's a nifty finish to an odd little gem of a debut.
REDadmiral by REDadmiral is available now at redadmiral1.bandcamp.com. The band plays the Northern Exposure showcase on Thursday, June 16, at the Higher Ground Showcase Lounge in South Burlington. An official release party for the album is Tuesday, June 28, at Nectar's in Burlington.