What’s new: The Rock*A*Teens, “Sixth House”

by Jon E. Lynch

I still remember the first time I heard Atlanta, Georgia band The Rock*A*Teens, not to be confused with the Richmond, Virginia, rockabilly sextet of the late ’50s, The Rock-A-Teens. I’m referring to the asterisked indie rockers, not the hyphenated early rock and rollers. I was living in Lawrence, Kansas, and heard a cut off their second Merge release, “Golden Time,” on KJHK, the local college radio station. Bands on the Merge label did well in Lawrence, thanks to a variety of connections to the local music scene. Merge was, and still is, one of the labels you trusted.

The Rock*A*Teens’ first run as a band lasted eight raucous years, from 1994 to 2002, and in that time influenced countless would-be and soon-to-be indie rockers, but the band disbanded before they were truly given their due. Back in 2014, the band reunited to play the Merge 25 weekend of anniversary shows, right alongside bands that perhaps wouldn’t exist without their influence. Since reforming, the band – songwriter and lead singer/guitarist Christopher Lopez, guitarist Justin Hughes, bassist William R. Joiner, and drummer Ballard Lesemann – has returned to touring and playing live. Thankfully, the return to the road also meant the band began writing again, and the culmination of doing so is the infectious “Sixth House.” This is a record of wonderfully unique indie rock, with precise musicianship and an off-kilter delivery. When I say infectious, I meant it. The album has only gotten better with repeated spins, like any great album should. Standout tracks include the foot-stomping romper of an opener, “Billy Really,” the anthemic fist pumper “Closest To Heaven,” and the jangly heavy hip-shaker, “Lost In Sound.” Lopez and company are playing like a band half their age, and sound as if they are having a lot of fun doing so. Hopefully this translates into some of the due they should have received their first time around.

Sixth House is available Friday, June 29, on the great Merge Records in a digital download as a high-quality MP3, on compact disc, and on vinyl in a standard black colorway. You can also order the album as part of the label’s Peak Vinyl offerings. Peak Vinyl records come in a limited edition colorway (in this case, a snappy translucent green), a couple other goodies, and are available only from the label directly and from participating independent record stores.

Recommended for fans of Archers of Loaf, Okkervil River, Destroyer, The Walkmen, Superchunk, Polvo, or Spoon.

Jon E. Lynch[email protected]

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