River City High - Not Enough Saturday Nights (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

River City High

Not Enough Saturday Nights (2006)


River City High, a band that perhaps should have been left dead after the collapse of MCA and the loss of half of their members, is back baby! Their troubled story has been all laid out for us in an extensive MySpace blog; I'll spare you and give you the Reader's Digest version: Though the band lost their MCA recordings, in 2004 Doghouse released the Extended Play EP with some of the new songs re-recorded. But bassist/singer James Menefee and guitarist Mark Avery were planning on starting fresh with a new project in late 2004 when they got a call that they had by default made the finals on MTV2's Dew Circuit Breakout when the original 12th place band broke up. So with their two new members they decided to give it a shot for the money, honey: 50,000 cool ones. In one of the great wrongs of all time they beat out one of my favorite bands, Mock Orange, and more hilariously Hawthorne Heights to take home the prize which was used to fund this recording, their first full album since 2001. I feel for the band; they have had more than their share of ups and downs, and while this record is mainly simplistic and pompous bar rock, it has some redeeming qualities and some downright fun moments.

When the guys act all tough-shit like they try to look in their photos, cowboy boots and all, they mostly fall flat. Opener "Dogwood Queen" is only watered-down AC/DC attitude revved up in tempo, and "Bastard" is just like, "look at me ladies, you'll fall for me ‘cause I'll treat you like shit!" Some songs push past the shallow nature simply because of their hooks, like "We Want the Radio" with its staccato guitar-stomp verses, and the choruses, while cheesy, are undeniably catchy with the "whoa"s and all. "Pass that Riff" is pretty silly, but the "Suffragette City"-ripoff shouts of "hey man!" make it enjoyable to join in.

The band is easier to swallow when they take the sensitive-boy angle rather than the rock star schtick. More melodic songs like "Amy" are cheesy too but in a different way, and the better melodies and less reliance on forced attitude helps. "Understand" brings the machismo down another notch, and while it is nothing too original it is one of the better songs on the disc. "A Better Day" is the catchiest of the bunch and could almost pass for a Motion City Soundtrack tune with grittier vocals.

As closer "Makes No Difference" finished up, the comparison I was looking for finally hit me -- they sound like Jet. If that MCA thing had worked out and they released an album like this in `03 when the first albums by Jet and the Darkness were all the rage, these guys would have been stars. Sucks for them.

River City High is the perfect band to see in bar on a Friday night after a tough day at work. Their energy, attitude and hooks would have you shouting along and fist-pumping with the crowd, but you probably wouldn't buy the album to take home with you. Bless ‘em, they've been working hard for years and have had some bad luck (and some good) but this is an album I will only listen to again on rare occasions when I'm in the right mood.