Redgrave – National ActPosted by Laura Lancaster
Components for hard rock band: Plenty of reverb? Check. Heavy licks? Check. Harsh song-titles? Check. An “In-Your-Face” attitude? Check. Face melting riffs? Check. A lead singer with an alluring mix of danger and sexuality? Check. Redgrave covers all rock grounds, yet not without feeling methodical. Their debut EP, National Act, contains many sounds from past rock eras including 70’s blues-rock, 80’s hard rock and 90’s grunge. Front woman Angie Mead is the star of this Chicago duo. Her intense voice warbles over a zealous electric guitar. Stephen Howard accompanies with cymbal-heavy drumming. Their sound is tight. Yet there is nothing innovative about Redgrave. They rock out in a constructed way, with a “this will work” philosophy floating just inside the periphery of their image.
National Act is full of tried and tested rock formulas of the past, leaving them very little capacity to succeed today. Their potential fans remain a couple of decades behind too. Dwindling are the days when Wayne’s World dudes divide their time evenly between worshiping hard rock and babes.
We are introduced to Redgrave with “Dick Moves”, a song that starts at 11 and continues through to the end with equally high intensity. “Custom A” and “Lik-M-Aid” fulfill the slower rock ballad quota, pushing Mead’s howling vocals into the spotlight.
The instrumentation lends nothing to the imagination. Repetitive riffs and patterns encompass most of National Act. It is the chanteuse quality of Redgrave that saves them from total rock band wannabe perdition. Unfortunately, it does not save them completely. The lyrics are indecipherable and her vocals burn out regularly, destroying the momentum.
It is indeed impressive that a two-piece band can create a sound that is both full and energetic. Mead understands the relationship between the voice and the guitar very well. In “Assault Song” her voice slides right along with her electric, hitting the same notes she plucks in a style comparable to one of their most obvious musical influences, Led Zeppelin.
Although National Act displays moments of foot-tapping pleasure, it is for the most part a mediocre attempt. Although the sound is tight, Mead’s enervated vocals alongside uninspired hooks make Redgrave feel like the runner-up in a Battle of the Bands competition (i.e. okay, but forgettable.)