The Loved Ones is a new three-piece from Philly with some veteran musicians. The band members previously played in Kid Dynamite (bass), The Curse (guitar, vocals), and Trial By Fire (drums), and they are releasing a debut EP on Jade Tree Records. These five tracks of raw rockers are produced by a big name, Brian McTernan (Thrice, Hot Water Music), who manages to make the trio sound rather huge. The abundant energy and loud sing-alongs make the music better than your run-of-the-mill bar band. Regardless, these Springsteen punks have a lot of improvements to make before they can "set Philadelphia ablaze," a goal proposed in their press release.
Heavy, chunky guitar hooks introduce you to The Loved Ones in "100k." The loudness of the guitar sounds derived straight from the amp and not a slew of distortion pedals. The more traditional tone compared to young punk rockers aids The Loved Ones in creating a mature sound. However, the straight-forward guitar playing hinders the EP. The conformity all five songs is the leading cause of blandness, and there aren’t enough leads sprinkled in to add catchiness. Maybe the remedy is adding a counterpart to round out The Loved Ones’ guitar lineup. Hause is a fluent guitar player, but he doesn’t offer much more than loud hooks.
Although the guitars bog the EP down with some predictability, Hause’s vocals are true quality. With a mildly raspy voice, Hause strongly belts out things like, "and they’d leave us to drown here according to plan / but if this ships going down you’ll find me with the band’" on the slow acoustic cut, "Drastic." At times, Hause’s voice is reminiscent of Hot Water Music’s gruff vocals, but his lyrics are easier to hear. Hause confidently closes the disc with "Candy Cane," showcasing fiery shoutouts and powerful declarations. Rhythm is explosive throughout the disc, and it does help to make things more exciting. The drumming is relentlessly hard, as you witness when the pounding resumes in "Candy Cane" just when you think it’s over. Still, the standout performance must be awarded to Hause’s vocals, which add heartfelt honesty, all with a punk sensibility.
The biggest gripe I have with The Loved Ones is the lack of variety. Similar-sounding hooks are in every song, and unfortunately it hinders the band’s uniqueness. With better songwriting and more emphasis on leads, this band could make great strides. Hause is definitely a strong vocalist, but he has not mastered the title of singer/songwriter yet.