Album review: Rev Gusto - Burnt Out Friends
“Goodnight Laura. It’s nice to know ya. But it’s better if I just fade away. So goodnight Laura. Know I adore ya. But, you’ll never be happy if I stay.” This lyric pierces my heart a bit. While this sad, easy let-down story is charming and catchy, I do want Jerry Frederick to stay. I really do. This lyric from “Goodnight Laura” is just some of the simple brilliance found on Burnt Out Friends, the debut full-length from the very original and talented Kansas City based Rev Gusto.
Burnt Out Friends, the 10-track record, released July 28 on High Dive Records, is on heavy rotation in my house. The super rad red cassette is in even heavier rotation in my car. I have seen them countless times. Danced like a crazy person until my legs no longer worked. Forced everyone I know to listen and join in. You could call me a fan.
This album is lighthearted and lyrically brilliant. We should expect no less from the gifted mind behind the project: Jerry Frederick. “We wanted to capture a raw sound with the album, so we recorded the entire LP live in studio to do so,” he explains. He might know what he is doing. He studied in England under Ray Davies of The Kinks. Spoiler: you can hear that in this album—every track. Jerry’s vocals are almost Britpop. Imagine early Beach Boys had a baby with The Kinks and Spoon and raised it in a dark, sarcastic, romantic comedy. Burnt Out Friends is full of simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic.
The brilliant musicians who can be heard on this album are Quinn Hernandez (drums), Shaun Crowley (guitar and trumpet), Peter Beatty (guitar and keys), Sam Frederick (bass) and of course, Jerry Frederick on guitar and vocals. Fun fact about Rev Gusto: after a restaff, they are now a three-piece. This includes Sam, still on bass, and Matt Wargin on drums. I heard this rumor but have not taken in a live show with the new lineup yet. “I loved playing with the dudes from the old lineup, but a stripped-down sound lets me get in touch with my song’s pop roots; more of a focus on vocals and harmonies,” was Jerry’s response when I quizzed him about the shake-up.
Burnt out Friends opens with “The Boys Are at It Again,” a great pick for an opening track. It’s light, sugary, and catchy. Jerry’s vocals and Shaun Crowley’s guitar with a perfect salty surf sound makes you dance like an awkward Peanuts’ character. My favorite track on the record is “Blood in a Bag.” This song about a crush is lyrically like none I’ve ever heard. In true Jerry fashion, it tells an obscure story of a boy, crushing on a girl while he has his blood drawn. Awkward, simple, like it were straight out of a dark indie romantic comedy. “Surf City/Mind in a Cage” is the most interesting on the album. The two short songs smashed together are a perfect combination. The first of the two are just as you imagine. The title is a spoiler. The second feels like a dance-it-out garage pop anthem. I put this track on in my living room, listen to Shaun play me that salty surf sound, jump around (usually after too many beers) and scream, “Let it go, let it go, let it go, let it go,” along with Jerry.
This pristine, simple, raw surf garage glam pop magic is such an unlikely sound to come out of Kansas City. I am full on Thanksgiving turkey thankful for it. And if you get the opportunity catch a show, do it.
Haver of sweet dance moves and stealer of t-shirts.
You can check out the new Rev Gusto lineup at Revolution Records next First Friday—they’ll be playing therewith Black Stacey and Coyote. Show starts at 7 pm. Facebook event page. Or if you’re in Warrensburg on Saturday, they’ll be at The Bay.
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