The Family Business have been purveyors of home grown, down to earth blues flavored rock and roll since 2005. The four-piece released a collection of thunderous, rowdy rock songs in 2009 and called it Fedora. Three years later, their sophomore album, Nightmares and Wildest Dreams, was released. The record fell back on a more familiar, homey/southern sound, and solidified The Family Business as legitimate contenders on the blues scene. Seized by an apparent restlessness, the Wisconsin natives took a year to frantically juggle touring, songwriting, and recording before dropping Rock and Roll Machine in July.
Rock and Roll Machine opens with a track of the same name, and within the first few seconds introduces you to the horns and female harmonies that persist for the rest of the album. In “Rock and Roll Machine,” we sense a new sort of energy from The Family Business; it’s definitely not as heavy as what we’re used to hearing from the Wisconsin foursome. In fact, Rock and Roll Machine doesn’t actually cross the threshold into the big, raucous sound that The Family Business have worn for the previous two records. Instead, a more subtle approach is taken that highlights the band’s use of melody and harmony above and beyond anything they’ve previously done.
The collection of 11 songs comes from an incredibly eclectic mix of influences. “Sing” sounds easily like something from Frank Sinatra’s repertoire, and on “Chances” Alec White does his best Johnny Cash. The lush harmonies on “Falling” have a decidedly gospel feel to them, and “The Island Man” is a strange theatrical take on a country tune that sounds like it should have been a single from the latest Eric Clapton release.
The Family Business also indulge themselves in the oft-forgotten area of sonic experimentation. Effected drums make an appearance on “Falling” and “Chances,” and the latter includes a low-fidelity horn bit that sounds brassy enough to convince you it was sampled off of a gramophone.
It always seems that the faster a band works to put out material, the better that material is. Perhaps this is because when a band hits its creative peak, it can’t work fast enough to pump out idea after idea. Or could it be because when an artist keeps busy, there’s less time for ideas to be over-analyzed. Either way, Rock and Roll Machine is a near flawless album. Keep an eye on The Family Business, because they’re going somewhere. And when they do, it’ll be huge.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Rock and Roll Machine
– Lora Z
– The Island Man
The Big Hit
– Rock and Roll Machine
Review by Richard MacDougall