J-Roddy Walston and the Business
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J-Roddy Walston and the Business

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"Blurbs galore"

"Infectiously manic...they make James Brown look lazy."
-Baltimore City Paper

Led by piano-pounding vocalist/frontman Walston, the Baltimore band oft evokes an aural combination of Ben Folds and Marshall Crenshaw. Walston isn't too shabby on the guitar, either, and the tight rhythm section brings it all home with flair.
-creative loafing-

"Equal parts ragtime, southern trash rock and McCartney-esque classic rock, with some gospel and barbershop thrown in. (Think a really twisted version of the Band circa 1969, and you'd be pretty close.)"
-The Washington Post

"Like Jack White mumbling old-timey blooze while riding Queen's gay bicycle built for two."
-The Village Voice (NYC)

"J-Roddy plays the piano like he invented the piano.... Hypnotically beautiful, funny, and fascinating to see."
-ACE Weekly (Lexington, KY)

"Behind the Telecaster power chords and barroom rhythm section, the band has a sense of irony and taste, lyrics that are at times both playful and earnest, and a raw energy and talent that set them apart."
-Urbanite Magazine (Baltimore)

"They pull from the hookah of Classic Rock and rootsy traditionalism and give everything their own contemporary, energized spin."
-Cincinnati City Beat

"Known for packing in the dancing crowds, the Baltimore-via-Tennessee love children of Paul McCartney, ragtime, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Billy Joel, and Queen - take a huge leap forward with Hail Mega Boys."
- Baltimore City Paper



"A pop purveyor of the contagious, dance-around-the-club type, J. Roddy Walston leads a triumphant, Queen-meets-The Beach Boys, catchy-as-hell quartet that sounds strangely drunk and genius all the time. In J. Roddy's world, the precision of Grade-A pop music meets the insobriety of pint-lifting bar hootenannies at every chord change."
-The INDY (Raleigh, NC)

"One of the most original bands to step onto terra firma, J Roddy Walston and the Business plays sanguine piano pop with four-part harmonies that alternately sound like a choral group, a barbershop quartet, and a bunch of blokes getting boozed in a pub. Add in trumpet, tambourine and Walston's sandpaper vocals and you've got yourself some modern-day Harry Nilssons."
-Richmond.com - Misc.


"the purest American rock-and-roll band I've heard in years."

Almost a year ago I was working a molasses-slow night over at the Caledonia Lounge where I am a doorman. It was one of those nights where the crowd was so sparse people would stick their head in the door, see the nearly empty room and just split. This is when an unknown bunch of super-friendly guys from Baltimore, MD, got onstage and proceeded to blow the minds of the limited crowd, the entire club staff and anyone who did wander in.

J-Roddy Walston & the Business is, to almost the exclusion of all others, the purest American rock-and-roll band I've heard in years. Their songs are piano driven, soulful rave-ups. Some might refer to this as "good-time rock-and-roll" but that's much too simple a term for these guys. There's an urgency in their sound that suggests music is much more than a pastime or even a job whose primary purpose is to entertain. I've listened to the band's most recent album Hail Mega Boys probably 30-50 times since its release earlier this year and it just as often leads me to near tears of joy as it does beer-swilling abandon. I love J-Roddy Walston & The Business because we share a common, often laughed off, belief: rock and roll matters.

Trying to describe the band's music is difficult because everything I think of seems overly simplistic. Let's make some comparisons: imagine a band with the lyrical honesty and acerbic wit of Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson, a musical palette worthy of NRBQ and the excitement of Little Richard. I'm at a loss for words to describe them any further. All I can tell you now is that J-Roddy Walston & the Business could provide one of the better shows you'll see this year. - flagpole (athens ga)


"first you have the rock then you have the roll"

There's simply too much good music coming out of Baltimore not to include at least a sample in this intermittent column. A lot of it is weird and spazzy, but that's not the case with J Roddy Walston and the Business. This quartet plays rock-and-roll. Not indie rock, not alternative rock, not pop/rock, nothing like that. Rock-and-roll. When you break it down, there are just two very simple components. First, you have the rock, which is served up in plentiful doses throughout the album's 12 tracks. Think the Hold Steady but with less of a classic rock bent. Yes, there are definite nods to the Band and Mott the Hoople, but the guitar and piano-based songs have a pretty timeless sound and constant forward momentum, especially on "Stop Rip & Roll" and "Rock & Roll The Second." Then comes the roll, which is really where the piano comes in. This may not be dance music, but it's certainly boogie music. The twinkling of the keys adds an infectious, hip-shaking element to most of these tracks. J Roddy's enthusiastic, verging-on-hoarse vocals are perfect for lines like "My sister shakes it / Her kiddies shake it / You know they shake it / They gotta, gotta make it!" Take a listen and you'll surely be shakin' too. - washington post


"one of the most enjoyable indie rock releases of the year"

Full of swaggering, melodic material, this disc is one of the most enjoyable indie rock releases of the year. A step up from the local quartet’s debut EP, it weds Walston’s barrelhouse attitude and shout-along choruses to Billy Gordon’s ripping guitar licks and a rock solid rhythm section. Walston’s piano single-handedly distinguishes a few of these songs from most standard indie rock fare, as he interjects crippled chords and trembling notes into “Mommie Bomb” and “Go Malachi.” Those understated flourishes contrast nicely with the euphoric catharsis of “Go For It” and “I’ll Tell You What.” But “Nineteen Ought Four” might be the biggest surprise of all, with its sublime Beatles-esque harmonies and nods to the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904. - baltimore magazine


"nobody rocks as hard as j roddy walston and the business"

We confess: ever since the hype surrounding the Black Keys died down and the term "indie rock" was appropriated to describe an increasingly eclectic selection of experimental and dance-pop acts, we've been a little worried about the future of rock. Then we heard J. Roddy Walston and the Business.

Our fears were almost immediately allayed.

Nobody rocks as hard as J. Roddy Walston and the Business. Watching these guys perform is like watching a live bull fight, with audiences dancing for their lives in the aisles. Their sound combines the boisterous, raucous energy of 70s and 80s rock groups like Mungo Jerry and Huey Lewis and the News, with a hint of Elvis-esque rockabilly, a dash of honky-tonk piano and a little Neil Young to boot.

And while J.R.W and the Biz certainly rock out like stars, this Baltimore five-some hasn't let it go to their heads. Instead, they continue to win fans through relentless touring and high energy performances.

"You should buy our CD," proclaimed lead singer J. Roddy Walston at a recent show. "Otherwise we won't be able to afford to print our entire name on our album covers."
- philly style magazine


"its wednesday, so it's time for rock n roll"

Checked my calendar, it's Wendnesday, so it's time for Rock 'N' Roll.

I was first introduced to J Roddy Walston and The Business from Eachnotesecure a couple months back. I don't remember the specifics of the conversation, but I think it went something like this, "Hey, I heard this awesome rock band called J Roddy Walston and The Business," and I replied, "I LOVE AWESOME ROCK N ROLL!"

How awesome you ask? You can make some initial comparisons to other bar rock bands like The Hold Steady or Two Cow Garage, and you could put the three of them on a bill, but you better have an extra keg or five under the bar. The bar rock label works pretty good, however, once you give their debut, Hail Mega Boys, a closer listen, everything from southern rock, folk, rhythm n blues, soul, and plain old rock and roll, finds its way into the mix. That's cool and all, but what takes them to the level of awesome, is the street-wise, working class attitude that infects each of these numbers. If it's folk, then its tough folk. If we're talking rhythm and soul, it's tough rhythm and soul. And if we're talking rock n roll, you guessed it, it's tough. - i rock cleveland


"independance day freedom rock"

Rod, Zach, Billy, and Steve are four normal, slightly nerdy-looking dudes who happen to be rock stars. Two out of four wear black-rimmed, hipster-kid glasses. Two out of four have long curly Robert Plant hair. Zach – who wears both – was dressed in tight black jeans and a gas station find: a super-snug sleeveless T-shirt with the state of Arkansas on it that read: “The People’s Vote.” At a crowded Pizza D's, I sat with J-Roddy Walston and the Business, the long name of this super-tight throw-back band from Baltimore, and talked about sunburns and swords until our table got pushed aside and people stood up and moved in close for the opening act, Nathan Browningham.


J-Roddy Walston and the Business opened their Independence Day set by defining freedom as rock ‘n roll, drinking, sweating, humping and dying and toasted to doing all of the above last night. Then they ripped into a song about “goin’ out with my friends,” which got everybody dancing and hanging all over each other. The band’s head-on, head-banging approach to rock ‘n roll of old with go-for-it guitar solos, saloon-style piano and shout-along choruses liken them to Kings of Leon and The Hold Steady. They’re loud, relentess and wear you out before they’re even halfway done with you. They played for an hour and were prodded to do a few more. They gave in and gave us three more songs including a sing-along about baby Jesus and a song about marrying a girl named Sally.

- arkansas times


"first things first rock doesn't have enough piano"

J. Roddy Walston & The Business are a Baltimore band (by way of Tennessee) who released their first full-length, Hail Megaboys (Southern Brethren, distribution through Morphius Records), in early March.

First things first, rock and roll doesn't have enough piano. Maybe you've seen Any Given Tuesday's prior explications on the awesomeness of Jerry Lee Lewis (read a review of The Killer's Last Man Standing), who, whaddya know, is also from Louisiana. Well, J. Rod & The Biz have been listening. Not only that, each member must have been issued Queen's Greatest Hits as required listening upon entry into the group. Hellbilly piano and vocal harmonies rip throughout the record. On the dancehall/barroom cut "Rock and Roll The Second" the keys are the star, Rod's itchy and scratchy voice coming from behind to drive a distinct rock and roll that brews somewhere below the Mason-Dixon. Follow that with "Go For It", favoring guitar attacks over the black-and-whites, "Go For It" is a danceable jam with encouraging lyrics inspiring enough to cause you to dance away your worries and then go out and do something about them!

The real roots rock gets kicked up from the dust on "Sally Bangs", based on a tune Rod's grandmother's family used to share. Twanging guitar (or is that actually a banjo?), drums that harken up a washboard percussion sound, anybody with a little bit of country is going to get a bit reminiscent with this one. Speaking of reminiscing and nostalgia, harmonies just short of "Bohemian Rhapsody" burst from the flames of "Nineteen Ought Four", which is loosely derived from Baltimore's own history: the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 (or, if not based on the Fire itself, on a metaphorical, malevolent desire to raze the town/life and start anew). Even if the song is more of a statement of stagnance in both geography and mentality, it does name-drop our fair city. That counts for something, doesn't it?

See "Stop, Rip and Roll" for the '70s-rock backing vocals and classic-rock guitar that define Hail Megaboys, just before falling into the dysphoria of "Go Malachi". The closing track takes an album of tunes that at least sound worry-free and untroubled even if the lyrics don't always follow suit and departs on a somber tone, sharing tales of stale marriage and cognizance of one's own lackings in life. While the band's sound is like a teenager with no cognizance of her own mortality, "Go Malachi" and the other less forward-looking tracks like "The Times Are A-Staying" might be a precursor to an evolution in sound and substance for J. Roddy Walston & The Business. Don't let that keep you from enjoying the fast times of Hail Megaboys, there's plenty of time to grow up before the band comes out with another record - any given tuesday


"there aren’t nearly enough bands these days that do it the way J Roddy does"

When it comes to pure, unadulterated rock music, there aren’t nearly enough bands these days that do it the way J Roddy does. Roddy and his bandmates got their start in the dirty south, bouncing around to Tennessee bars playing their songs. The live aspect of their show has always been an easy sell, many that catch the band live become instant fans, as the energy and downright fun the band is having on stage is quite contagious. The band later moved together to the Baltimore area, and have since built up an even bigger following locally and regionally.
Until now though, the band hasn’t been able to really translate the live energy into a recorded disc. EP’s have been recorded and “CDR’d” by the band to sell at shows, to give people a reminder of the great live show they witnessed, but a proper full length was always waiting in the wings. Well, the full length album is here now, and it’s certainly worth the wait. The album, “Hail Mega Boys” is a long thought out, often analyzed piece of art. The songs are boozy rock numbers, carefully constructed lyrical gems with scream out loud choruses.

I still maintain that these guys are one of the best kept secrets in the unsigned department right now. And the new album is a total DIY effort as well. The guys have become their own record label in an effort to see what they can do with this piece of work on their own. So far, they have already sold way more albums than expected, and have just begun to hit the road to support it. J Roddy Walston and the Business will be performing here in Cincinnati twice in the next 5 weeks, the first of which is this thursday @ The Comet in Northside. This is a free show and take it from me, these guys will leave you reeling. Here is an excellent song from the new record, “Hail Mega Boys.” - each note secure


"raw energy and talent set them apart"

Heaps of praise are leveled these days on bands like The Hold Steady and Spoon for playing "good, old-fashioned rock," as if the rest of the rock bands out there—the ones playing anything more experimental—have gotten totally out of control. Likewise, Chattanooga-to-Baltimore transplants J Roddy Walston and The Business will be rewarded by the critics for their conventionality. But behind the Telecaster power chords and barroom rhythm section, the band has a sense of irony and taste, lyrics that are at times both playful and earnest, and a raw energy and talent that set them apart.

Take for example the song "The Times They are a Staying," the fifth and perhaps best track on their new record, Hail Megaboys. J Roddy starts by strumming and singing a disaffected ballad, with acoustic guitar, a chorus of "oohs" in the background, and a long, tension-building hold on a five-chord. But there is a moment, right around the thirty-second mark, where, as the front man's Rod Stewart-meets-Springsteen voice rises with the line, "… and I see they finally got their hands on you," and the song slips into a punkish boogie refrain—you get a chill. It's the feeling you used to get when an otherwise milquetoast pop band like Fastball used to come out, every once in a while, with a really kick-ass single.

On the rest of the album, the band sticks to the same formula of its second EP, LMNEP: manic, piano-heavy rock (more Jerry Lee Lewis than Scott Joplin), and well-arranged Queen-style vocal parts. "Used to Did" snarls along with sneering country-punk lines like, "How bout this, give us a kiss, uh-huh / I got this gun, and girl it don't miss / It makes babies / It makes that rock and roll."

"Go for It" rips the Stones' "Don't Stop" to the point that you feel like you can sing along with it on first listen. "Generic in Love" lets a tongue-in-cheek barbershop quartet soda-fountain thing (think Billy Joel's "The Longest Time") get blown away by a head-banging punk-rock chorus. The two truly weird tracks on the record—the angular, hand-clapping "Picnics and Kisses," and "Sally Bangs," a girl-about-town song that shames Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young sing-along folk—are piled at the end of Megaboys, which makes the point clear enough: J Roddy's real experimentalism as a band is secondary. They are, first and foremost, a solid, talented quartet, playing—what else?—that old-time rock 'n' roll.
-Robbie Whelan - urbanite magazine


Discography

Here Come Trouble EP (2003)
LMNEP (2005)
Fierce Tiger EP (2006)
Hail Mega Boys (9/9/2008)
J Roddy (2010, to be released on Vagrant Records)

Photos

Bio

A descendent of a long line of great southern musicians j roddy walston
Was raised on the music of God and taught to play rock and roll by the hand of the
Devil. Leaving behind family, friends, and the slow pace of the south j roddy headed
North, and along the way he picked himself up a mean band of players.
A violent and passionate live show, an affinity for melody, and a dash of youthful
Bravado have had every yank lucky enough to come across these carpet-baggers come home
Shaking at the knees and swinging at the hips. Yes j roddy walston and the business
Are the true megaboys of rock and roll