Reviews The 4onthefloor 4x4

The 4onthefloor

4x4

There is a type of rock & roll that is very, well, American—thunderous, hard-driving, electrified rhythm and blues with greasy guitars. Music that evokes a variety of American imagery—an oversized, gas-guzzling pickup truck covered in mud barrels down a gravel road; the driver—sporting a camouflaged hat and a farmer’s tan—rides shotgun with a six pack of beer and an actual shotgun. Or a group of bearded, pot-bellied men on a mid-summer motorcycle run up Route 66—nights spent drinking whiskey and slapping waitresses on the butt in roadhouse bars; mornings at the truck stop, refueling with large plates of biscuits and gravy and pots of black coffee. And my favorite; a couple of heshers working on a rundown car in front of their trailer house—a girl with bad tattoos and Daisy Dukes sits on the steps a few feet away, smoking cigs and hollering out unwarranted advice. You know; hog farmin’, flame-print skull caps, muscle cars, sleeveless tees, choppers, double cheese burgers, leather bikinis, manual transmissions, and suckin’ on chili dogs outside of the Tasty Freeze—the good ‘ole U.S. of A.

Alright now that we got that out of the way, let’s get another thing out of the way. The 4onthefloor have a gimmick. (Actually they have two gimmicks, but one plays into the other.) That gimmick is the number 4. They have four members, all of their songs are in 4/4 time, their debut album, 4x4 has 16 songs, which is of course, four multiplied by itself; and each of four members play a bass drum. (The other gimmick.) Story has it the decision to have each guy playing a bass drum was spontaneous. One night backstage lead singer and guitarist Gabe Douglass told the rest of the band, “Everyone is playing a bass drum tonight.” They all looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders in agreement, and the rest, as they say, is history. All that being said, I want to make one thing clear; The 4onthefloor are not a gimmick band. First and foremost, they are a rock band…a foot stompin’ rock & roll force.

From the opening track, “Exile”—a hymnal-like number—it becomes immediately apparent the thumping low end is going to be a presence throughout the record, as the only musical accompaniment is that of hand claps and kick drums. The pace moves quickly into “Lionhearted”, and you get the first taste of the complete rock & roll package that The 4onthefloor is. Gabe’s vocals range from partied-out Jim Morrison-esque poet-speak to a deep guttural howling capable of waking the dead. The latter of which is on par with The Cult’s Ian Astbury or a young Chris Cornell, at least in terms of sheer wail. Despite the heavy bottom, the guitars are not overshadowed in the slightest. In fact, it’s the six string sting on this album that is the most impressive. Songs like “Wait” and “Not Tonight” lean heavy on the residence of lead axe-wielder, James Gould. And occasionally you’ll hear someone chime in with a little harmonica.

Considering they have limited themselves to only playing in 4/4 time there is a surprising amount of variety on this record. 4x4 is a revved up amalgamation of Delta blues, outlaw country, gospel, and second generation rock & roll—Allman Brothers, Mountain, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Merle Haggard, David Alan Coe; you name it, you can hear the influences on this one. There is even and outstanding cover of M.Ward's "Magic Trick." If it’s the R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A. that you want, look no further than The 4onthefloor.

7.4 / 10Nathan G. O'Brien
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7.4 / 10

7.4 / 10

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