The Record Company came out of the gates spinning fast. Their 2016 debut album Off the Ground spent 42 weeks on the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Chart. Led by the tile track “Off the Ground” (number 1 US Billboard Adult Alternative Songs chart) and “Rita Mae Young” (hit 12 on the Adult Alternative Songs chart) the band garnered a 2017 Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Album. The band’s promotional media appearances included the likes of Late Show with Stephen Colbert, TBS’ Conan, SiriusXM, NPR’s World Café Live. Off the Ground even touched the big screen with “In The Mood For You” on the soundtrack for Bad Moms.
The album itself was written, recorded, and mixed in Alex Stiff’s (bass, backing vocals) living room in Los Angeles where Stiff, along with Chris Vos (guitar, lead vocals) and drummer Marc Cazorla formed the band in 2011. This should fuel inspiration and hope for aspiring artists everywhere. Speaking of inspiration, in an Americana Highways interview, Vos said “My personal mantra is, play every show like it is one less in your life, not one more. That motivates me to play my heart out, to let the moment be special, and enjoy all of it.” That inspires one to want to have a frosty beverage with that man.
June of 2018 brought us All of This Life which debuted at 94 on the Billboard 200. All of This Life also peaked at 9 on the Alternative Albums chart. The lead single “Life to Fix” attained number 1 on the Adult Alternative Songs Chart. Following a planetary pause button, the band released Play Loud in July 2021. The single “How High” hit number 3 on the AAA radio chart and could be heard on NFL games and the soundtrack for MLB The Show 22.
All this high-profile media exposure and it still feels like The Record Company is flying under the radar. Chances are we all know more than a handful of humans that have heard their work and not know who they’re listening to. Apparently, their record company thought so, dropping The Record Company just before Christmas 2022 as they were working on their next release.
The band would sign with Round Hill Records but went back to their living room roots. They decided this was going to be the work of just the three of them. They dusted off old equipment, wrote raw honest statements, and nominated Stiff to produce. The band’s fourth album would be titled just that, The 4th Album. Talk about raw and honest!
Raw and honest is how the band describes the album in the YouTube release of the first single “Talk to Me” a rhythmic lament to the ‘quiet treatment’ stages of any relationship. The song hit #4 on the Billboard Triple A chart. The second single off the September 15 release “Dance on Mondays” speaks to having personal independence and control. Its opening bass line is then underscored with signature slide work. It’s a great 1st track for the album. Did I use the word inspiration earlier?
A lively harmonica joins the fun on the second track “I Found Heaven (In My Darkest Days)” as a nod (or 12) to how simple things like a sip of whiskey and old jukebox song can ‘find heaven in my darkest days’. The third track “Highway Lady” may be my personal favorite. Having a favorite on The 4th Album may be not much more than a favorite color of M&M. It’s a slower track reflecting on the fleeting gift of time and the unknowns the future holds. “Patterns” follows a song about time ticking life away with a song about life’s routines ‘patterns in my weekdays, patterns in my clothes, get me back on the road again’.
Track after track brings different flavors of inspiration (there’s that word again) with toe tapping fun. There’s the rockabilly not-quite-rap of “Roll With It”. The Stones-esque “Bad Light” with humorous lyrics ‘something wrong with my money it just flies away’. The steady “Control My Heart Blues”. “I’m Working” shouldn’t be overlooked with its addictive harmonica laden changes in pace. The album closes with what I can’t help but perceive as a dig to their former record label. “You Made A Mistake” may sound like some old school ass in the trashcan blues, but there’s a message in those words ‘I got a couple of good ideas I got truck load of blind faith – You made a mistake quittin on me’.
Followers of The Record Company will denote the vibe and sound of Off the Ground. The band’s intentional efforts to return to their roots have borne fruit. If The 4th Album can meet or exceed the accolades of the previous works remains to be seen. It has a raw honest inspirational message of self-empowerment. Don’t “Dance on Mondays” to someone else’s tune. Break the “Patterns” and “Bad Light” reflections that make you seek someone to “Talk To Me”. Keep the mantras of “Roll With It”, “I Found Heaven (In My Darkest Days)”, and “I’m Working” and let those know giving up on you “You Made A Mistake”. The 4th Album has the makings to be their best yet and is one incredible album.
The Review: 9.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Talk To Me
– Dance On Mondays
– Highway Lady
– Bad Light
– You Made A Mistake
The Big Hit
– Talk To Me
Buy the album: Amazon