Rough Kids - The State I'm In (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Rough Kids

The State I'm In (2013)

Sorry State Records

LA's Rough Kids peddle a sound firmly rooted in the late 1970s and early 1980s, being part rock'n'roll, part punk rock and part edgy new wave. On the first few listens I found it a bit too urgent and wasn't able to allow the songs to sink in, but fortunately my perseverance paid off and The State I'm In grew on me with its twelve tracks which are raw and ragged, yet tight and precise, leaving me caught hook, line and sinker.

Throughout this record I hear moments that remind of a host of bands from the eras above including the likes of Stiff Little Fingers, The Saints and The Rezillos to name but a few. The guitar work is choppy, with some well-placed leads that never take over the songs but manage to add something noteworthy to them, whilst the bass comes across as a continuous rumble rather than a collection of distinct and individual notes (there might be a name for such a style but I'm not a musician so you'll have to forgive me) which is highly effective. The drumming isn't too expansive but it clearly does what Is required of it in tandem with the four strings, in keeping the engine moving at a good pace. On top of all this, the vocals really provide the icing on the cake in terms of being the perfect match for the music.

The music certainly has its poppy leanings in addition to the rock'n'roll/punk that underlies the band's sound, and this adds quite a lot of catchiness to the songs, many of which are extremely melodious despite the frenetic approach Rough Kids take.

Picking a handful of recommendations would result in the following trio of songs being put forward: "In Effigy," "This Technology" and "Dead and Gone," and I am extremely partial to the middle track even with its 1970s rock intro which quite quickly and smoothly breaks into a more edgy mode, more akin to the rest of the record. This is a pretty strong debut album from a band that have the chops to go with the bit of swagger that the record contains.

Rough Kids are so good at sounding like a band from thirty years ago that it wouldn't surprise me if I were to pick up some book of the history of LA punk rock and find the band looking bored, staring back at me in a black and white photo taken in some litter strewn alleyway. Don't get me wrong, this isn't some retro trip as Rough Kids certainly keep things fresh, but it's impossible to deny the influence the past has had on the band.