River City High – Won’t Turn Down

River City High
Won’t Turn Down

I saw River City High for the first time at KrazyFest 2000. I didn’t think too much of them; they were good, but I was pissed off that I had missed my favorite ska band in the whole world. So I was really impressed when I heard Forgets Their Manners. From Richmond, VA, they pretty much have the tale of most bands: a couple of guys met in high school, started a band, went through some line-up changes, and then got big.
Won’t Turn Down is less, dare I say, emo than their old recordings and more on the poppy side of the indie rock musical spectrum. “Just Wonderin'” is a tale of missing the girl. It’s even got lyrics about Jimmy Page’s pants. “I’ll Make it Up to You” is my favorite track, with throbbing bass, beautiful guitar lines, punk rock drums, and amazing vocals done by someone other than Mark Avery making it a song that is not easy to forget and something not done by RCH before. Avery’s distinct raspy vocals have done lead vocals for all of their releases. “Runaround” has a guitar intro that reminds me of 80’s hair metal. The song has muted guitar chords with dueling lead parts, the moving bass, and the vocals that made RCH a jewel in the crown of Doghouse/BWR artists. “No Free Rides” is the most reminiscent of old RCH songs on the disc. Quiet guitar starts the track with vocals seeming almost an afterthought. The song builds into a vocally disappointing track. The harmonies and lyrics in the chorus are both typical and overdone, but the music more than makes up for it. “Along for the Ride” is the track that lends itself the best to the jumps that Avery loves to do live. It’s fast, melodic, and has a plethora of breakdowns preceded by drum buildups and guitar slides. The drums play the same beat that they have played the entire CD, but that is the one of the things that RCH has borrowed distinctly from the punk genre. “Hello November AM” is out of place, using a banjo and country guitar; it seems like an intro. And it is, to “Hello November PM,” which is a decidedly more appropriate song for RCH to play.
So River City High has done it again, making a fun first full-length that is fun to listen to, but to me is a bit of a disappointment musically really. The guitar work is impressive, the bass entertaining, the lyrics uninspiring, and the drums boring. Not to say it’s not good, I just prefer to listen to RCH’s older work. Their live show is still entertaining and the songs are easy to sing along to, so I look forward to my next opportunity to see them live.