Red Hot Valentines - Calling Off Today (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Red Hot Valentines

Calling Off Today (2003)


I'm such a sucker for these guys. I know that what they play is textbook pop rock with simple Moog parts, but they just do it so damn well. The songs are so catchy I can't help but sing along, and every time I hear a new track of theirs I bust out my Juno 60 and play along too.

RHV formed in 1999 at a small college in Lincoln, IL. Then soon dropped out to move to Champaign and try the band thing full-time, and they gained big support from the campus radio station, which put them in regular rotation. Double Zero Records took notice and released their split with Retro Morning, as well as got them a spot on the upcoming Smoking Popes tribute album. And now they have released "Calling Off Today" on Polyvinyl, with a full length coming soon. They've come far in three years.

Let me first say that this disc is for die-hard fans only. The title track is the only song that calls this EP its only home. The second track "Firecracker," was on their first release, the DIY EP "There is No Plan B." The third, "Don't Bother" will be on their upcoming full length. It's just those three tracks, but then there is a video on the disc of "Bring Back the Good Times," but even that is a previously released song off their Retro Morning split.

"Firecracker" is my favorite RHV song, and I was glad to see it redone since it was missing from their self-titled full length for some reason, when almost every other song on the first EP was redone on there. It sounds great with the production on this disc, but I have a beef with the altered Moog part. The original rhythm has been changed slightly to make it like one long legato passage, rather than the more forward-moving rhythm from the original recording, which I preferred. Ah well. Other than that, the addition of Tyson (of The Amazing Killowatts) as their full-time keyboard player is welcomed; his synth knowledge and knob-twisting keeps the parts more interesting. The video for "Bring Back the Good Times" is pretty sweet even though it is just them playing, kept interesting with some neat split screen stuff and the like to the beat of the tune. It's an amazing song too, I'm glad it's on here. "Calling Off Today" and "Don't Bother" are both good tracks, but pretty standard stuff for this band. Both are catchy Moog-filled tunes, but not my new favorites or anything.

Another note: the actual disc looks really cool. Being only 11 minutes, the music would take up very little of a full CD, so they made it like a mini-CD with the rest of the disc space made of clear plastic. The art on the actual CD part spills over onto the plastic section; to give you a better idea, it is like the NOFX "Decline" disc.

If like RHV and don't have their first EP, I would recommend this because "Firecracker" rocks so hard... but even then, they have that track for download on their site. If you are a huge RHV fan, go pick this up, or else you might just want to wait for the full length "Summer Fling," due out on Polyvinyl on May 20th.