Looking at what’s popular now, the only big rock bands that aren’t holdovers from the 90’s are either almost-electronic nu-metal holdouts, or post-post-grungers so monochrome that even Beavis and Butthead would laugh at them. What was the last new group you heard of that you could just call “a rock band”? Not alt rockers with a small stage’s worth of effects pedals, not art rockers that play with drum loops and keyboard samples, not indie rock bands that are utterly terrified at the concept of being rock stars, I mean an actual, big-swinging rock band?
“We got bass/We got drums/We got guitars/we’re strong” answers lead singers Bob Dee through a snarl on the grinding titular track of Up All Night. And that ain’t bad for a thesis statement for the EP: Up All Night and Bob Dee with Petro focus on hard-hitting, muscular rock and roll. Yes, it’s simple. Yes, it embraces every cliché you’d expect from cover art of the band’s lead singer in a black leather jacket. But the band sells all five tracks wholeheartedly, and it’s hard to ignore.
Opener and personal pick for best track is “Tell Me”, with a punishing beat, solid hooks, and an anthemic chorus. The song opens with a sung “Oh whoooooa” hook that sneaks in and out of the verse which gives way to a fist in the air chorus with a shot of romance. “Tell me, tell me what you want, girl/I’ll give you everything/Tell me, tell me what you want, girl/You are my everything” might not be the most original line, but it gives off enough personality and likability to make the song hit home. And the music is light on its feet while still packing a solid punch.
Next song “Stars”, a power pop tune pumped up on steroids and a Killers-y chorus, is the pop song on Up All Night. It’s a little ham-fisted lyrically, but the arrangement and melody to it are interesting enough to keep the song afloat. Up next is “Lips That Heal”, which feels more like an interlude than anything else; even though it uses keyboard synths and a hip-hop drum beat, the production puts it squarely in rock. The drums come in crisp and at the front, as do the vocals, while the keyboards don’t overcrowd. It’s not a bad tune, but I won’t complain with its short run time.
Up All Night‘s final two songs are a seven minute rock band workout. As mentioned, the title song cuts between a grinding riff and some frantic drumming. And final song, “All American Boys” is a sweaty, swaggering tune that begs to be a concert grande finale. These songs have an almost idealistic naivety to them in how unabashedly old school rock they are, and hearing something like this is refreshing.
As a whole, Up All Night‘s an enjoyable listen that goes down easy and lends itself to multiple listens. The musicianship is strong, the production is decent enough, and the EP is traditional without sounding deliberately or clumsily retro. The only drawbacks are Bob Dee’s cigarettes and alcohol rasp might be initially off-putting (but easy enough to warm up to), and sometimes Bob Dee with Petro embrace clichés too eagerly (without an extra shot of something, it’s hard to imagine the band sustaining themselves meaningfully passed an album). But who said that has to be so bad?