Pat Todd and the Rank Outsiders
14th and Nowhere
Review by Kent Manthie
Pat Todd shouldn’t be a stranger to those hard-core fans of the dark bar-band scene. From roughly 1984 all the way through 2004, The Lazy Cowgirls, Pat’s old band, was a Southern California sensation. The Lazy Cowgirls weren’t in the SST class of So-Cal hardcore/punk bands like Black Flag, Minutemen, Husker Du (who disdained the label “punk”-they called themselves “rock”, but that’s another story), etc. Think more of Social Distortion as a template: the sort of on-the-edge, hard-drinking, hard-living, early 1970s Rolling Stones sound (I know that sounds strange, throwing in a band from England, but really, by then, the Stones were closer to Americans than Brits).
14Th and Nowhere, their fifth album, follows up a roster of a group that hasn’t gotten stuck in a lazy sort of rut and put out the same thing over and over again. But, having matured and grown into a wider berth of output, the Rank Outsiders’ stuff also adds a tinge of Texas-style country to the So-Cal rock and roll. When I say “country”, I sure as hell am not talking about the syrupy, flag-waving crap you hear on the radio today, but real country, like it was made back in the 60s and early 70s by legends like Buck Owens, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard. But as well, don’t expect to hear a replica of any of these guys. Their sound is purely their own and it’s more rock than anything else. The whole “country” part is stuck way in the background.
Listening to it, I get a mental picture of downtown L.A. at night, when the streets are deserted, not being anything like the Sunset Strip or over by 11th & Grand, etc., but rather, I’m thinking, like 4th-7th and Spring Streets, 5th & Los Angeles Ave or 3rd & Main. After about 6pm, the streets around there get very quiet, walking around there around 8 or 9 pm, it’s almost like walking around on a deserted movie set, made up to look like an urban area. Even the air has this feeling to it. Now, not too far from this part of the downtown area, in isolated spots in a few different parts of the DT area, there are great, small-ish clubs such as The Smell, The Mayan, Tatou or Karma. Those are a bit closer to Staples Center, around Broadway and in between, on side streets.
Some stand-out songs on 14th and Nowhere I noticed were “I Won’t Forgive You”, the title track, “Small Town Rock Ain’t Dead” and then, to spotlight one on which the Country licks show up, there’s “Known To Stumble/Known To Fall”. “You Sugar is All I Want” is a sexy rocker. Then, closing up this 15-song CD, the penultimate song, “One More Tank of Gas Revisited” is a straight-ahead, ass-kicking tune that has a slight country twinge to the vocals, but a rock-steady rhythm and a stripped down and raw musicality, like a bare bones, ’69 GTO. Then, to close out the album, “The Ambulance is Here” is an acoustic ditty that turns things down a notch or two. It’s kind of like an “end of the night” tune, the kind you put on at closing time, when people, after a hard night of drinking and dancing, full of sweat and liquor, are milling about, at first aimlessly, then eventually finding who they came in with and head towards the exit door.
This release is a marriage between Rankoutsider Records & Saustex Media. On the CD sleeve, I didn’t see Saustex mentioned, I only saw the Rankoutsider Records’ website listed. So, I would guess that Saustex are distributing this at the very least. I know it’s that at least because I received this CD straight from Saustex.
I wish I could fill up more with some history of the band, but to tell the truth, I’m brand new to these guys. But, like a lot of bands for whom I review for Saustex’s roster, I dug it from the get-go and like the whole attitude, the style and the music.
To get more information on the whole relationship between labels or to find out more about Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders, check out Saustex’s website: http://www.saustex.com or go to Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders website: http://www.rankoutsiderrecords.com.-KM.