River City High

Not Enough Saturday Nights

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Five years have passed since River City High released a new album, and in that time, they've been signed and dropped from a major label (having a completed record shelved in the process), half of their lineup has been replaced, and, just so it's not all bad news, they also won an MTV2 on-air contest for up-and-coming bands. No doubt rejuvenated by that last bit of success, the Richmond quartet persevered, found a new label home (on Cali indie Takeover) and finally resurfaced with their sophomore full-length, Not Enough Saturday Nights. Suitably titled, the guys sound like they're having some of the most fun of their career. They're confident, almost challenging listeners to not groove along -- but it's a toss-up as to how many old fans will. Remember the aggressive punk-influenced rock of their past? Well, "Dogwood Queen" and "Bastard" rip the record open with River City High now sounding like a bunch of ex-hardcore guys embracing their cock rock loving pasts; it's all thick riffing, gravelly-tough vocals, muscular rhythms, and a dash of Southern flavor (they were definitely wearing cowboy hats, sleeveless button-downs and boots during recording). With the exception of "Amy" and "Be There," which bring back the Fat Wreck-ish punk sound, the record is basically late-night rock for townies and roadside bars, the band owing much to Thin Lizzy, Bob Seger, and Chuck Berry (who they even thank in "Pass That Riff"). Thankfully, though, there's enough variety here to keep things from being all sweat and testosterone; nothing completely misses the mark (though "A Better Day" sounds disturbingly like a cross between Rick Springfield and Fleetwood Mac) and relatively more composed tracks like "Understand" and "The Hard Way" mix things up nicely. But despite wanting to have a good time (and making music to match it), the some punk here, some balls-out rock there vibe makes the listen a bit uneven and the band's desired direction unclear. There's enough to satisfy for a bit, but hopefully River City High will figure things out further one of these hungover Sunday mornings.

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