If you can imagine the upbeat, family-friendly optimism of Buddy Holly mashed together with the grungy, fuzz-pop instrumentals of The Thermals, you’ll probably get something resembling San Antonio three piece The Rich Hands. While this analogy doesn’t exactly do justice to the band’s songwriting chops, I think it manages to capture the seemingly paradoxical nature of their music – it’s like punk and blues on Prozac.
Their newest LP, Out of My Head (co-released today on Fountain Records and Burger Records), is as energetic as it is carefree and innocent. The influence of the fifties and sixties are palpable on tracks like “All Over Me” and “Teenager,” in which the gleefully vacuous choruses (“I’m a teenager / I’m a teenager / I’m a teenager / And I’m in love”) are delivered so enthusiastically that you can’t help but start singing along. The Rich Hands aren’t bad lyricists, they’re just really good at channeling that mid-century, drive-in theater naiveté that we all secretly pine for from time to time.
Other songs, such as “So Fine” and “No Harm Blues” are pretty straightforward blues melodies, but they include some brilliant guitar and organ accents that flesh everything out nicely. I’m particularly fond of the guitar solo towards the end of “Ballroom Love,” which, while not exactly dazzling from a technical standpoint, just feels so perfectly called-for. I mean, when was the last time you came across an indie band that did bluesy solos without any hint of irony?
Out of My Head is a refreshing album. It’s riddled with nostalgia, but not in any sort of tongue-in-cheek or cynical way. The Rich Hands have embraced the simple joys of rocking out in a garage and singing about all the girls you have crushes on, and they’ve done so with such tight songwriting and big smiles on their faces that it’s easy to lower your guard and join in. I guarantee you’ll be bobbing your head along with this one all summer.