To the uninitiated, RDGLDGRN raises a lot of questions. Are they a rock band or a rap group? How did this relatively unknown band end up working with guys like Dave Grohl and Pharrell Williams? Why do they hate vowels so much?
After listening to the band's self-titled LP, those questions start to become obsolete--except maybe the last one. Despite having a name that does not lend itself to spell-check, RDGLDGRN has managed to create a truly unique sound that defies conventional genre restrictions. The biggest test for the band on its debut full-length is its ability to stay focused while maintaining its genre-defying identity.
The most exciting element of RDGLDGRN's music is its heavy go-go influence. For those outside the beltway, go-go is a style of music originated in Washington, D.C., that blends elements of funk, hip-hop and latin percussion.
This influence is noticeable throughout the album, but it shines brightest on the track "Doing the Most." The Pharrell Williams-produced banger features some pop-friendly vocals and bright guitars in the verses, but the hard-hitting chorus and thundering breakdown make perfect use of the beat that propels the nation's capital.
In addition to Williams' contributions, RDGLDGRN stumbled upon some help from another famous Virginian. Rockstar-extraordinaire Dave Grohl plays drums on this track and several others on the album.
Crafting the booming go-go breakdowns around more mainstream-friendly song structures and pop-rock/hip-hop elements may draw some criticism from go-go purists, but in turn makes the music more accessible for listeners not familiar with the hyper-localized genre.
On the other end of the spectrum, "Power Ups" and "Million Fans" lean heavily on the band's hip-hop sensibilities. Green (vocals) is a surprisingly gifted emcee and the band has a knack for hip-hop that is usually lost on rap-rock artists.
The biggest misstep on RDGLDGRN's debut LP is that the strongest songs are ones that were featured on the band's EP earlier this year ("I Love Lamp," "Doing the Most," "Million Fans" and "Hey O"). Despite some quality additions ("Bang Bang," "Double Dutch"), the new material is a mixed-bag and struggles to live up to the same standards.
The current single, "Lootin' In London," is perhaps the chief offender. The song feels made-for-radio with little connection to the rest of the album. It is hard to fault the band here, as this often happens to young artists making a major-label debut. The tenuous relationship between artists and their labels often requires some compromise.
Despite its sometimes wavering focus, RDGLDGRN LP, is a solid effort from a legitimately talented and creative group of musicians. Red (guitar), Gold (bass) and Green are on to something, and it is refreshing to hear a band create a sound free of the same old derivatives.