Dick Rodan is a four-piece country outfit that come from the least ‘country’ place one could think of : Toronto, Canada. Though they may be big-city boys, they sure know how to trick you into thinking they practice in a field somewhere in the American Midwest. If you like your country to be more like Hank Williams than Florida Georgia Line, then you will have some fun with this short, six-song EP entitled The Legendary Dick Rodan.
Much like hip hop, success in the country music genre has a lot to do with the artist’s credibility and whether or not they are ‘real country.’ The Dick Rodan crew sit firmly in the classic, whiskey-soaked and heartbroken kind of tunes that feel right at home in a dive bar or honkey-tonk jukebox. Lead singer Rod Beattie has a gruff, honest voice and an earnest delivery that really pulls the listener in without sounding cliché or overacted.
The record begins in the most predictable and safe way you could expect from a country record: a classic pick-up guitar riff that goes into a Johnny Cash like, two-beat rhythm. With lyrics about an outlaw running from the law, ‘’Run’’ isn’t the most original song, but it still works. There’s a nice build-up of intensity after the first chorus that works well and really sets the mood right. The track is complemented nicely by banjo, mandolin and, surprisingly, a little bit of fuzz-filled electric guitar. There’s one thing about country music that most bands just completely miss: the humour that is inherently present in the genre, yet often forgotten. “Farewell to Sober,” the second song on the album, had some absolutely hilarious lines that are both fun and memorable. Some highlights include “I’ve seen my share/of barrooms and chairs/to make another man quit/I’ve held my own/with the seeds that I’ve sown/and Women that would make a man sick,” It’s not often that I laugh out loud when listening to music, but this was a definite highlight in that regard. The song sounds like a great track to sing along to right before last call at the local watering hole. Lyrically, the songs follow the same kind of alcohol-infused trouble making that one would expect with “Trouble” and “Stagger Back,” both being suitable but slightly forgettable numbers.
The band ends the EP on a high note with a blues number subtly entitled ‘’ Drink, Drink, Drink, ‘’ a song that could have been written and performed by someone like George Thorogood.
My biggest complaint has to do with the production on this EP. It isn’t terrible, but there are moments where it sounds like a totally different mix from song to song. This makes it all sound a little uneven, especially where the percussions are concerned; the drums are way back in the mix, and they sound flat and thin. The same can be said about most of the lead guitar parts; the sound is lifeless and too far back in the mix to add any weight to the solos or guitar fills. Perhaps the band purposefully wanted a sound as raw as their music, but I still think it drags the whole thing into the ‘good demo’ category instead of a professional recording.
Dick Rodan are not exceptional, but if originality is ignored then there is still much fun to be had if you need a good soundtrack while drowning your workweek in some Jim Beam.
Written by Ben Massicotte
*edited by Kate Erickson