CD Review: Freedom Run [2011]

 The Rifles
Release: 9/2011
Label: ATC
Comments: There comes a time in a music reviewer’s life when it’s clear as day that a band has softened up. I like to call this trend ‘going softie’. Now, I heard a couple cuts off this record before it was officially released and held off posting them on here. I thought, well, The Rifles can’t be going softie! The rest of the new record won’t sound like this, right? Well, admittedly, The Rifles aren’t the brashest of rock and roll bands in the world. I don’t think they ever claimed to be. They are well-rooted in The Jam and maybe some of Weller’s other projects, including solo. So, yes, we aren’t talking classic punk rock here. Freedom Run is boring. The Rifles take some of their past tricks, which have been terrific, and dumb them down for a more mainstream audience. Shame! It’s hard to listen to them descend into some kind of Coldplay schtick. I won’t give them all the blame, though. As a fan of music, maybe it’s me after all. Maybe I’ve grown tired of the bright and twinkly stuff that I loved two years ago. Maybe this album is better than I’m making it out to be. Or maybe I just miss the heavy-hitting, rock N roll of “She’s Got Standards” and “Repeated Offender.”

Grade: C/C-

The Rifles Ft. In iPod Commercial

In yet another strange pop culture twist, The Rifles (a favorite of mine) are currently being featured in an iPod commercial. Not directly, of course. The listener of the iPod in the commercial clicks on The Great Escape at the very end. The album art is very visible. This is yet another strange pop culture twist because The Rifles were being played on satellite pop radio throughout summer 2010. I found that weird because nobody knows about the Rifles in the United States…or so it seems. More exposure can’t hurt.

Link to the Commercial:

Props of the Day!

Props of the Day go to Today’s Hits! Yes, yes. The Rifles, a fantastic rock band, were played today on Today’s Hits, a satellite radio station that plays mostly shit mainstream music. So I’m listening to the likes of Taylor Swift and Adam Lambert at work when all of a sudden I hear… The Rifles! What has the world come to? For the better, for the better. I was in complete shock. I finally got to enjoy listening! I saw the Rifles back in September when they played to a crowd of about 70 (if that) at the Great Scott. Let’s just say there are far bigger bands I’ve seen than the Rifles that I could have guessed had a shot at being played. This was a nice surprise. The next song after “Great Escape” was “Beautiful Girls” by Sean Kingston.


Concert Review: The Rifles

John: Last night, I ventured with Glen and Paul to the Great Scott in Allston, Ma. We went to see the two amazing acts: Mike Fiore, of Faces on Film and the British indie band, The Rifles. Though this was my first time at the Great Scott, I could tell it was a slightly smaller, and a bit more intimate venue than that of the MidEast. But, I liked it.
The gig was amazing, though that goes without saying. Mike Fiore had very passionate, and at times depressing, lyrics. His voice was like that of a male angel, singing the travesties of life, love and the injustices of the world. I especially loved when he sang something to the effect of “before she left I would never need medicine.” Thought not many people were drawn to him, I was. I could never be able to perform by myself in front of a few people, let alone a group of one hundred or so; and so, I commend him for his bravery. Due to being the lesser known opening act, most weren’t crowding around him. They were all waiting for the Rifles.

Glen: Mike Fiore did go a bit under-appreciated. I recognized a few of his tunes, notably “I’ll Sleep To Protect You,” “The Medical Mind,” “The Winners Daughter,” and the classic closer “Natalie’s Numbers.” For an acoustic solo musician, he deserves a lot of credit. The Rifles surprised me in a number of ways. I didn’t anticipate such a lengthy set (17 songs including the two song encore). The Rifles played seven songs off of their top 10 album of 2009 The Great Escape and a number of songs from No Love Lost. There were clap-alongs, sing-alongs, requests…you name it. Amazing drumming, amazing guitar solos, amazing singing. “She’s Got Standards” stood out as did “Romeo and Julie,” with its catchy “woh-woh-woh-oh” bit. I’m definitely glad I ventured out to see this show. It goes down as amongst the best.

The Rifles Set List
1. “Science in Violence”
2. “She’s Got Standards”
3. “Repeated Offender”
4. “The Great Escape”
5. “Peace and Quiet”
6. “Out in the Past”
7. “History”
8. “Hometown Blues”
9. “Spend a Lifetime”
10. “Toerag”
11. “Robin Hood”
12. “When I’m Alone”
13. “The General”
14. “Local Boy”
15. “Romeo and Julie”
16. Encore #1
17. Encore #2

Tonight’s Show!

As the concert calendar says I am attending a concert tonight. My third in six days and there’s nothing wrong with that!

The Rifles will be playing at the Great Scott. Seems like they embarked on a brief East Coast tour to coincide with the North American release of their latest album The Great Escape. I’ve been listening to that album for about a month straight, most every day. I’m excited to hear a lot of tracks off of it, but I also look forward to hearing some No Love Lost stuff, which  they played at the Berkeley Performance Center last September when they opened for Paul Weller. And guess who I just found out will be opening for The Rifles? None other than Mike Fiore! Not the WHS grad. I know…I think of him every time I hear the name too. Happens to us all. I’m talking Mike Fiore of Faces on Film. Uh huh, the same Faces on Film that I saw in January  opening for Mission of Burma.

My review of the Rifles from last year: Certainly one of the finest opening acts I’ve seen in my brief concert-attending journey. Reminiscent of The Libertines, The Cinematics, and The Jam, these guys truly rocked. Songs such as “Repeated Offender” and “Peace and Quiet” handled the group’s brief act. Combining pop elements and punk riffs, these songs (and more) came out as polished as you can expect for a band that is just starting to acquire fame. The crowd seemed especially impressed by “She’s Got Standards” — a revival of post-punk that sounds more 80s than 00s.

My review of Faces on Film from January: Faces on Film, a former comedy troupe from Boston, was, if you ask me, awesome live. I did hear a little FoF prior to the show, but I wasn’t so familiar that I instantly recognized any one particular song. When the first words (“your desperate children”) came out of singer Mike Fiore’s mouth, I instantly felt like I was listening to Connor Oberst. Fiore is a bit less emotional than Oberst, but his general folk vocal approach is enough to mention the similarity. Fiore was excellent sans his band (a few songs), but I thought the band added a nice element of instrumentation, warranting an almost immediate comparison to Hamilton Leithauser and his Walkmen. My favorite song of the less than one hour set was “I’ll Sleep to Protect,” off of FoF’s hit 2008 album The Troubles. A polished guitar riff, slick bass line, light drums, powerful keyboards, and Fiore’s “oh oh oh oh oh oh” all coalesced into a memorable four minutes.

Funny how I compared him to Ham.

Hopefully some pictures will be taken and all will be fun tonight!

CD Review: The Great Escape

Band: The Rifles
Label: 679 Recordings
Release: 2009

1. “Science Is Violence” – 9.6
2. “The Great Escape” – 9.8
3. “Fool To Sorrow” – 9.7
4. “Sometimes” – 9.8
5. “Toerag” – 9.5
6. “History” – 9.3
7. “Winter Calls” – 9.6
8. “Out in the Past” – 9.2
9. “Romeo and Julie” – 9.7
10. “The General” – 9.5
11. “For The Meantime” – 9.6

The Rifles from London, England put out a fine album three years ago in No Love Lost. After all was said and done, five singles were released and brit-punk enthusiasts from near and afar began calling themselves Rifles fans. The band’s strain of alt-rock — somewhere between post-punk revival and Britpop — is particularly likable on The Great Escape. That’s mainly because the songs are upbeat, catchy anthems. Songs like “Fool To Sorrow” and “Sometimes” could easily hold their own as singles, reminding the ear of commercially successful 21st century revivalists like The Killers and Franz Ferdinand. The Rifles do not exactly venture into new territory with this album, but stay true to what they have always done best. The result is eleven songs that won’t scare away big fans and will certainly bring in new ones. The near amateurish simpleness of songs like “History” and “Winter Calls” might have you thinking the Rifles are your average up-and-coming British mod wanna-bes.  But that’s not the case; the band have been playing gigs since 2004 and have established themselves all the while. This album exceeded my expectations.

Grade: 9.6 out of 10