The members of the four-piece band The Riot Van comprised of Sean Miller (lead vocals/guitar), Paul Pearlmutter (guitar/backing vocals), Daniel Stuart (drums/percussion) and Brian Laluces (bass) may not be old enough to vote but they sure figured out how to write a song. Being in my mid 30’s and some one who has been writing music for about two decades I can’t help but be impressed by a younger generation who are able to write good songs. I remember the songs I wrote when I was in high school and they were god-awful. Looking back, it took me a good ten years to write something that I deemed respectable.
The five songs on their self-titled EP The Riot Van may not be perfect but these are some well-written tunes that mix elements of punk, alternative and rock, which make for some good listening. I can say that every member of the band is proficient in their instrument. You hear an inventive drum fill or wicked bass line and think “damn, these guys have it.”
You can hear the band at their best on the very first song “Running Round.” The opening riff between the rumbling toms, catchy bass line and wicked lead guitar wasn’t too far off from something that you would hear from The Minutemen. When the chorus explodes it does so with an infectious vocal melody that will get stuck in your head. The vocalist sings, “So come follow me, come and you'll see / Another place that's far away / No matter what you say to me.”
Next up is “Stay Here” which is an upbeat, buoyant song that delivers another catchy chorus. The song is not quite as dynamic as the first song but is nonetheless enjoyable. There is some slick lead guitar towards the end of the song you won’t want to miss.
“Streetlights” contains arguably the best bass line on the EP while “Salt” is a jagged, punk song that has especially notable second half. They close with “Something Loud” which is a close tie to the exceptional “Running Round.” The song is dynamic and filled with inventive riffs while also being catchy. The chorus is exceptional.
The production on the EP is good but not great. I noticed the mix felt narrow and congested when they rocked out with distortion. Nothing major but still noticeable compared to commercial releases. I can say with a great degree of certainty that the band's best work lies ahead of them if they continue to practice and write. That being said the band is off to a great start with their self-titled EP.
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