Vegas With Randolph is a band from the Washington DC area (not Las Vegas) that's fronted by John Ratts and Eric Kern, who have been writing songs (500 of 'em, according to their notes) since high school. They've been playing the songs on their debut album for several years now, and it shows as they've honed a pop delight here. Reminiscent at times of other multi-fronted power pop groups (Fastball, Sloan) as well as Willie Wisely and Fountains of Wayne, the result is a left-field surprise that deserves attention in the power pop community.
Normally, I'll start a review with the first track because usually in power pop, the goal is the catch the listener's ear right away. But I'm going to start at the end here, with VWR's ambitious "Longplay" suite - six mini-songs woven together. While not quite Side 2 of Abbey Road, it compares favorably with last year's Lannie Flowers disc as well as the last two from Sloan. "Got to Have Your Love" and in particular, "Dreams of the Night" are highlights of the suite, reminding me of Eric Carmen and Paul McCartney.
As for the proper tracks, there are plenty of standouts. "Be the One", with its playful piano backing, channels the 50s through the 70s, "Milky Way Girl" sounds like it was recorded by a skinny-tie late 70s/early 80s power pop band, "When" recalls The Tomorrows & The Roswells, and if Noel Gallagher ever wrote a song about the French Revolution, "Versailles" would be it. Elsewhere "Arizona Blue" is a first-class ballad, and "Buses, Trains & Planes" answers the musical question "what would Fountains of Wayne & Belle and Sebastian sound like if they collaborated?". As you can tell by now, this one touches all the power pop bases, so listen below and you'll find something you like.
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