LOCAL (Baltimore) >>
Rating: 8 (out of 10)
Independent Release | 2005
When Pat Wescott sings ‚ÄúWe‚Äôve been waiting for you to finally come around‚Äù in the opening track of 2005‚Äôs Ranchero, he‚Äôs being, for once, very serious. Though this is Park Police‚Äôs first album, the band, which also includes bassist Eric Bloodsworth and drummer Bruno Anderson, has been together in various forms for well over a decade. This is the Baltimore-based group‚Äôs first attempt at a trio, which explains the opening lines of ‚ÄúMission Song‚Äù: ‚ÄúTen years and pocket change/ we‚Äôve been trying to rearrange/ had a choice for another band/ so we could find us a place to stand.‚Äù
It seems more like a place to slouch. Even after a decade of shuffling around, the three 30-somethings of Park Police still seem unconcerned with trying to make it big. They recorded at the Lil‚Äô House, and their album is sold with Not Lame Recordings. As in ‚ÄúMission Song,‚Äù their lyrics are often shrugs of self-deprecation; in ‚ÄúTunnel,‚Äù Wescott confesses to ‚Äúsinging to static, but I‚Äôve lost my place again.‚Äù Park Police even dubbed their debut after a defunct half-car, half-pickup truck ‚Äì certainly not the most glamorous means of transportation.
But there‚Äôs nothing more comfortable than cruising around in a beat-up pickup ‚Äì even half of one ‚Äì and Ranchero is just the CD to blast from the busted speakers. Not only are many individual tracks bona fide driving songs (especially and obviously ‚ÄúNext Gear‚Äù), but the album as a whole is a rollicking, we-don‚Äôt-slow-down-for-speed-bumps kind of affair. Like the car, the music is pleasantly worn in, friendly guitar rock with origins in The Who and Rolling Stones. The band also collects frequent comparisons to Joe Jackson‚Äôs early work, and the snappy ‚ÄúNationwide‚Äù and rich harmonies and catchy chorus of ‚ÄúI Tried‚Äù might mix well with the likes of ‚ÄúIs She Really Going out with Him?‚Äù
Ah, screw it ‚Äì this album isn‚Äôt designed for serious discussions or analysis, so stop reading about it. Go get a jump-start, duct tape the brake lights back on and hit the road with Ranchero.