The Parlor Mob


Written by: TL on 13/06/2012 14:13:37

It's not unusual for us here at RF to review records from the past year that for some reason slipped past us when they came out, but mostly when we do it, those albums are debut records by bands we hadn't previously heard about. What I consider almost inexcusable is overlooking an album release by an artist we (supposedly) already have our eye on, which is however exactly what I've managed to do with "Dogs", the 2011 album by New Jersey quintet The Parlor Mob, who have been my go-to-band of choice for any occasion when I needed to have my faith in classic rock'n'roll reinstated, ever since the release of their brilliant 2008 opus "And I Were A Crow".

For the newcomers, the deal with The Parlor Mob is that if you enjoy the virtues of classic rock bands like Zeppelin, Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Rolling Stones and you enjoy seing those virtues driven forward by young bands in the new millenium then The Parlor Mob is the band for you. Sure you may already have Wolfmother and Rival Sons, but for my money, the 'Mob has a slight edge over each of them, which is showcased almost as well on "Dogs" as it was on "And You Were A Crow".

The greatest thing about The Parlor Mob - and I mean apart from their sassy rhythms, electrifying guitars and singer Mark Melicia's vocals that are sharp enough to draw blood - is that they are masterful when it comes to balancing and timing their elements. Their songs span from straight up rock'n'roll, over rootsy folk ballads and into progressive hardrock epics, referencing classic bands and sounds all over the place and all the while they never, not even once, dwell longer on a part than they need to let it have its full effect, nor strum the next chord before they know the timing is primed for maximum efficiency. It's an overlooked quality in rock music - and it has been for as long as I can remember - knowing exactly how much of a good thing is exactly right, yet The Parlor Mob know and that's what I think makes them special.

Just sample some of their highlights if you need convincing. Listen to obvious single "Into The Sun" for instance, and notice how the rhythm changes underneath the badass riffage and catchy choruses to simply and perfectly emphasize and offset each. Listen to the following "Fall Back" and relish in the exchange between vocals and guitars in the verse, and in how effectively it catches your attention when he doubles the tempo of his vocal melody from the first line of the chorus to the second. Or how about the sweeping, up-tempo "American Dream" with its menacing verse and emotive rise to the chorus. How about the dirty, crashing groove of "Take What's Mine" which sees Melicia flexing his vocal talent to the max, or the monumental rousing of closer "The Beginning" - I could go on all day with these guys, and even doing so I'd probably feel hard pressed to properly describe poignancy, the elegancy, the power of this particular manifestation of that elusive concept of rock and roll, which others often chase so feverishly and futilely.

If I must make one critical observation, simply to create some illusion of balance in this review, I guess it would be that the calmer moments on "Dogs" don't strike me as having quite the staying power of their counterparts from "And You Were A Crow". Songs like "Practice In Patience", "Hard Enough" and "Slip Through My Hands" are all peculiar and recognisable songs and they serve the album well in providing diversity among the harder rockers, but where those harder rockers do indeed rock as hard as their "..Crow" counterparts, these softer numbers just strike me as having a tiny bit less soul maybe?

Honestly I'm probably splitting hairs here, which stems from an unshakeable feeling that "Dogs" is almost as good as "And You Were A Crow", the keyword being almost, and by almost I mean they're so close they're not even worth separating with a full grade. This is just more proof that rock and rollers need to get into The Parlor Mob if they know what's good for them, and more proof that I should be ashamed to have not picked up on "Dogs" till now, for had it come out this year for instance, it would surely contend with "Sweet Sour" as the best modern rock and roll record of the year.


Download: Into The Sun, Take What's Mine, American Dream, The Beginning
For The Fans Of: Wolfmother, Led Zeppelin, Rival Sons, Dirty Sweet

Release Date 11.10.2011

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