Baseboard Heaters release straight-ahead rock

The Baseboard Heaters have been described as classic rock. Classic rock has become an accepted commercial label these days. Why this came to be is a bit of a mystery. Is rock like Coca-Cola, coming out with a new flavor-of-the-month, so the old style can be marketed as “classic?”

Rock is rock. Sure, there are dozens of subgenres and categories now, but if a band has the necessary elements, they are still rock. Coke was always Coke, it was never Guava-Pineapple surprise.

The Baseboard Heaters do rock in a classic sense. “All the comparisons we get as a band are to the Who, Tom Petty, Neil Young and CCR. And to me that’s fine company. You look at the state of music right now, and it’s all such contrived horseshit,” said Bassist Matt Souther. “I think we’re the second coming of the Who.”

Second coming of the Who? That’s a big stretch. Music today contrived horsheshit? You betcha. Of course one could criticize the Heaters for contriving their straight-ahead country-inflected classic rocking sound, but the fact is it’s not. At times the Heaters’ sound brings to mind the excellent songs of Son Volt and Wilco, Petty and others, but something about it lets you know it’s honest and as true as anything else out there today.

The Heaters have a new album out entitled Lost All Faith. The 14 songs range from barn burners to sensitive ballads. The album makes it clear that this is a solid rock band. Songwriter Rob Stroup’s voice is familiar and good. Matt Brown lays down strings and fortunately knows how to get a thick electric guitar sound. Souther’s bass-playing and Derek Brown’s drumming do exactly what they should do in straight-ahead roots rock like this. The addition of producer Luther Russell on keys adds nice color and his production is solid.

These songs and Stroup’s lyrics are partially good because they speak of life and love in a straightforward way that many can relate to. Surprise! Kind of like a classic rock or country song.

Interestingly, this album starts off with a piano and vocal duet ballad called “Truth.” “… More frightening than a lie,” Stroup sings. Indeed.

“Over Before It Started,” gets the album rocking with a fast train shuffle beat. “There’s only so much a girl can take/only so much love a man can fake,” Stroup intones.

“Think” explains the Tom Petty comparison, not really in vocal inflection but good straight ahead mid-tempo rock with a catchy chord progression and song structure. This one also has the requisite background ooh’s and aah’s.

Most songs are open love letters of sorts, with Lyrics like: “There’s a place in my mind you reside/but I’m still waiting in line/I’m waiting, anticipating with a sixpack and a lime, but when I get close enough to see, you look a little too real/what was good in a dream loses to fear” from “Goodbye Rain.”

Some songs fall a little flat. “I Don’t Deny,” comes off a little bland and by the book, but still rocks along.

For the most part, on Lost All Faith The Baseboard Heaters play honest rock ‘n’ roll that comes right from where it should: that place inside that has something real to say and likes good old fashioned instruments like the electric guitar strumming over a solid rhythm our hearts can beat to.

The Baseboard Heaters play a CD Release show at Berbati’s Pan one week from today, Friday April 20. The show will be 21 and over only.