The idea that rock ‘n’ roll is a young man’s game is a little antiquated at this point; lots of middle-aged punks and sneerers embody the spirit of rock well past the primes their bodies and attitudes may prefer. The expression, maybe, stems more from the sources of the angst, the longing, the unabashed lunging for all life’s low-hanging fruit having more in common with the idealism inherent in our younger years. If there’s any kind of truth to the saying, then San Antonio power-punk trio The Rich Hands are one of the better progenitors of bottling the lightning-bolt logic of adolescence.
Out of My Head storms out of the gate with the power-pop anthem “All Over Me,” lead by the crunchy ax-work of vocalist/guitarist Cody Mauser, whose scrappy yelp facilitates shivers of soulful rock ‘n’ roll salutations. The band’s clearly been weaned on the sort of driving, balls-out rock of the mid-’70s and early ‘80s, eschewing flash for astute devotion to the sonic antics of bands like T. Rex and The Replacements and allowing the song itself to do the strutting.
The Rich Hands succeed in embracing and delivering with the expansive options afforded them via their stint at Detroit’s High Bias Studios; producer Chris Koltay (Atlas Sound, Xiu Xiu, Tyvek) encouraged the band to branch out with new gear for new sounds and inspirations, giving the album an undeniably fun sheen. Infectious odes to adolescence (“Teenager”) and love (“Love Struck,” “I Want You,” “Ballroom Love”) arrive dripping with pre-pubescent pomp and grinding, choppy guitar patterns. It’s a well-worn blueprint, but one earnest enough that forgiveness is in order should you find yourself humming along to progressions that have likely been written many times over.
Rich Hands switch gears with the organ-pocked slow-burner “No Harm Blues,” with Mauser’s squeaky voice meandering slur-worthy over a three-chord opus of promise to, well, not do someone harm. It’s the type of song that Joey Ramone all but copyrighted, but again, faulting a songwriter for paying homage to the wellsprings of their youth is a dubious battle.