The Rockwells

Place & Time

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The Rockwells are a quartet from Knoxville, TN, made up of two sets of brothers, the dominant ones being singer/songwriter/guitarist Jonathan Kelly and singer/songwriter/bassist Fred Kelly. Musically, they are often reminiscent of another rock & roll brother act, Ray Davies and Dave Davies of the Kinks, especially because their music draws heavily from the Merseybeat/garage rock style of the mid-'60s. It sounds, however, as though they are familiar with the permutations that style has taken through the decades, so that much of the time the listener isn't so much reminded of the bands that filled the first Nuggets album as of such successors as the Smithereens. Then, too, as Place & Time goes on, the Kelly brothers and their partners, Tommy Bateman (guitar) and Trace Bateman (drums) display the kind of musical eclecticism that led the '60s beat groups into the psychedelic sound in the Summer of Love. In fact, they start out the disc with a horn fanfare ("Ten Years Old Horns") before making like ? & the Mysterians for a while, and later they turn to gentler and more eclectic sounds. But the Kellys and the Batemans are always interested in chiming guitars and melodic harmonies, as the vocalists sing clever lyrics of romantic devotion and despair. The Rockwells are not a retro band, but rather one that uses a familiar pop/rock approach to explore new directions.

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