Virginia Coalition

Rock & Roll Party

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The Virginia Coalition are perhaps the quintessential college rock band of the late '90s/early '00s. While not necessarily innovative or "alternative," as their peers from a decade earlier would've been, the Virginia Coalition instead focus more on creating eclectic, fun, genre-busting party records. That means that the band has peers in groups like Dispatch, Guster, or the Push Stars -- bands that make music that's smart, catchy, and cleanly produced but plays away from the radio. The instrumentation leans slightly more toward organic; rather than relying on synths or beatboxes, this is straight-up classic rock & roll -- but the production is appealingly bright, modern, and commercial. It's true that plenty of bands have taken this approach to the mainstream -- Vertical Horizon, John Mayer, and yes, even the Barenaked Ladies succeeded at it, while many others (Everything, for example) failed. But Rock & Roll Party succeeds, in part, by playing it close to the vest: While the Virginia Coalition shift tempos from power pop like "By & By" to singer/songwriter pop to bar band rock & roll (the title track), they don't radically shift genres or get overburdened with excessive instrumentation. That's part of the reason why Rock & Roll Party is a fine collegiate pop record: It's smart and catchy with just enough of an adventurous spirit to carry it along.

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