There are many things to love about Philadelphia. One of my favorite television shows, the hit sitcom from the 90’s ‘Boy Meets World,” comes to mind. On the food side of things, Philly gives us the lovely Philly Cheese Steak. But people should be ready to add something else to the list of great things to come out of Philadelphia: The Loved Ones.
My first induction to Philly’s The Loved Ones was somewhat of an accident. But because of luck and good plane tickets, I flew down to Myrtle Beach last fall to see Flogging Molly. Opening for them was a band I had never heard of before, a band that I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect from.
That band was none other than The Loved Ones.
Before the show, I picked up their newest album, ‘Build and Burn,” and found their mixture of rock-interspersed keys to be almost bordering a folk kind of sound, though only shining through on select tracks.
It wasn’t quite the hard-hitting punk rock I expected, but it wasn’t quite ‘alternative” enough to dismiss as mindless corporate trash (which it isn’t, by any means).
One track in particular, ‘Louisiana,” a song about the victims of Hurricane Katrina, instantly became an overplayed anthem of mine, even though its lyrical repition may put some people off (not me).
The rest of the album was mixed with stand-out tracks and guitar solos amidst pounding bass lines. But I still, for the life of me, couldn’t decide what to call them.
Luckily, I got to see them live, and nobody could tell it better than frontman Dave Hause.
During the set, a drunken heckler yelled to the band, complaining that they were nothing but emo crap, and if I remember correctly, much more colorful language that only a heckler can use.
Hause was quick to reply, taking a break from the hard work the band had been putting into their set to answer the heckler: ‘I don’t know what you call it. But we just play rock and roll. But if you want to stick around after the show and meet me out back, I can show you just how emo I really am.”
The crowd cheered, and for the rest of the people there having a blast, the incident slowly faded from memory.
It doesn’t matter what they play, as long as a band knows how to go out, work hard and put on a great show, and The Loved Ones do just that.
Labels be damned, but that’s what I call some real rock and roll.
Looking further back into their catalog, this mentality comes through in the song ‘Player Hater Anthem,” which closes with the lyrics ‘Those who can tell know we’re here to play.” That mentality comes off both on their albums and in their live show. The Loved Ones don’t care what they are or what you think they are. They are here to play, spill their hearts out and give it their all.
The Loved Ones have had a busy last year, adding tracks to ‘All Aboard,” a tribute album to the original man in black, Johnny Cash, and recording a split with folk musician and former Hot Water Music frontman Chuck Ragan (whom I also love).
So when I heard that The Loved Ones were coming out with an EP this past Tuesday, I was pretty ecstatic. Not many albums are day one purchases for me (it could be argued), but I picked it up right away to give it a spin.
Dropping Feb. 3 on Fat Wreck Chords on both CD, iTunes and vinyl, the six-track EP, ‘Distractions,” continues the same direction that The Loved Ones paved with their last album, with a little more folk flare than their previous effots allowed.
You’ll find the same foot-tapping guitar rifts, strong vocals and tight rhythm section as in their past recording, all strengthened by keyboard overlays that give it flair unto itself.
Strong bass licks can also be found throughout, with ‘Spy Diddley” starting off with a bass solo, backed by speedy drums and leading to a guitar slide, and finally opening into an all-out rock groove that then melts into the more folk/Americana sounds of ‘Johnny 99.”
The EP then closes with an acoustic guitar-driven song that really speaks to The Loved One’s exploration of their folksy roots. (Is that a tambourine I hear?)
Honest music, good music, good honest music and good honest music that plays well live and in studio is hard to find nowadays. To this day, The Loved Ones hold three spots (11, 14 and 24) in my 25-most-played songs of all time (or until my iTtunes crashed some time ago), and that is amongst some of the toughest competition there is. Pick up their EP, give them a spin and show some love to a band that knows how to play rock “n’ roll and, sometimes even rarer to find, means it.
Keep rocking, The Loved Ones, and we’ll keep listening.
Tracks to dig: ‘Louisiana,” ‘Pretty Good Year,” ‘The Inquirer,” ‘100K,” ‘Player Hater Anthem.”
Clark is a member of
the class of 2012.

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