Roy - Big City Sin and Small Town Redemption (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Big City Sin and Small Town Redemption (2004)

Fueled By Ramen

On their new album Big City Sin and Small Town Redemption, Roy finds themselves dangerously treading water between "credible" alt-country/rock acts such as the Weakerthans and (early) Wilco, and more jokey music along the countrier sides of Ween or They Might Be Giants. It's a very difficult line to toe, but Roy does it rather admirably.

"Something That's Real," the album's opening track, is a fast-paced rocker with a good guitar line that makes it really easy to hum along. The rock continues into "Don't Overdub My Heart," a slower-paced song, but with a nice rock out chorus towards the end. Sadly, the band seems to unplug their distortion pedals for the remainder of the album, save the fun pop number "They Cut The Cord." It's a shame, because they're quite good when their amps go to eleven.

The good majority of the album is mid-tempo alt-country type stuff, the kind of music I'd imagine most people would want to write if they'd been stuck in the Pacific Northwest all their lives. There's the touching balladry of "Calimucho" juxtaposed against the absurdity of "Never Getting Married" - it's awkward, to say the least.

One thing many people criticize Roy for is their lyrical content. I won't lie, some of the stuff is pretty sophomoric - not neccessarily poo-poo pee-pee jokes, but a whole lot of singing about drugs and alcohol. And it's not even masked as metaphors for something else - Roy simply just likes to sing songs that involve doing drugs and consuming alcohol. It feels kind of elementary, and at points you wonder if they're kidding, but if they're not, you know their sincerity makes up for their lack of a thesaurus in their practice space.

Big City Sin and Small Town Redemption is a bit too big for it's britches, at 14 tracks and 42 minutes. I find myself spacing out for a good part of the first half of the disc, only being snapped out of it by "Rebel Hymn" kicking off side B. This disc might be a tad too ambitious for the band, but there's enough good here to warrant a listen.

Rebel Hymn
They Cut The Cord [demo]

Rebel Hymn - High Low

Stream the entire record here