The Names – First Record
What kind of 21-year old kid likes early Kinks, T. Rex and Stax Records? Apparently, the 21-year old kids in the Names, that’s who. They wear suits? They don’t rhyme words with female body parts? They sing harmonies? Exactly what in the hell is going on here?
As if the Beatles-esque album art isn’t enough of a clue, the Names’ avowed love of vintage rock and soul is made even more clear right from the opening countoff of lead track “Mama Don’t Like You.” It hurtles us straight back to a world where Rod Stewart was still cool. On the Stonesy “Moving On,” guitarist Kit Whitacre convincingly channels Keith Richards. We feel like screaming “Hey Otis!” during “Pootlehead.” “Babaloo Baby” resurrects Marc Bolan in all his T. Rex glory. And the sweet ballad “Oh Baby Yeah” harkens Richie Valens’ “Oh Donna” in all the right ways. Even better is live favorite “Cadillac (The Way She Goes), a three-minute gem featuring vocals and harmonies from bassist Harrison Cofer and drummer Matt Rose. There’s even a hidden track – and we love hidden tracks.
But this magical mystery tour never veers into Austin Powers hipster parody – it’s just straight-up rock and roll done right by four kids with all the right influences on their sleeves. What also doesn’t hurt is the fine production work from legendary L.A. soundman Gary Hirstius (who counts Don Was as a client and has recorded everyone who’s anyone from the heydays of classic rock through the birth of punk) and Annapolitan Charlie Evans.
The eight original songs written by the band and two tasty covers ( Hank Snow’s aforementioned “Moving On” and Ray Charles’ “Sticks And Stones”) leave little doubt that they’re a band capable of garnering national attention. In fact, with their straight-out-of-1964 aesthetic, the Names are the best young rock and roll band to come out of Annapolis in some time. Welcome, Harrison, Matt, Kit and Sam. We’ve been waiting for you.
The Names – Cadillac (The Way She Goes)
The Names – Oh Baby Yeah
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