Give It Back to You

The Record Company

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Give It Back to You Review

by Mark Deming

To hear them tell it, the Record Company came together when three musician friends started hanging out once a week to drink beer and listen to vintage blues recordings they'd found at used record stores, swap meets, and the like. Judging from the group's debut album, the guys in the Record Company probably have plenty of great stuff in their LP stacks; Give It Back to You boasts a casual but muscular tone that's part Southern groove (think Jimmy Reed and Slim Harpo) and part Chess Records bite (Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Bo Diddley), with a dash of the Black Keys' rootsy modernism thrown in for good measure. The Record Company know good music from bad, and they have chops to go along with their taste -- Chris Vos' guitar work is strong and well focused, while his voice is well suited to the material, and bassist Alex Stiff and drummer Marc Cazorla are an admirably tight and hard-grooving rhythm section who know how to make this kind of music move. However, one thing that separates the Record Company from their influences is their songwriting -- while there are a few gems here like the moody "This Crooked City" and the lean and funky "Off the Ground," there seem to be more clichés than inspired moments in this batch of tunes, and for a band that seems to be striving for a raw and retro sound, Give It Back to You never sounds as dirty or sweaty as it needs to be. Ultimately, this album makes the Record Company sound like guys who learned all they know about the blues from records, and while they're said to be a powerful live act, they need to bring more of that passion and fire into the studio when they make their second album.

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