Monday, February 22, 2016

EP Premiere: 'Amateur Hour' by The Rentiers

Title:  Amateur Hour (Red Executive, Death to False Hope Records)
Artist:  The Rentiers (Official, BandCamp, SoundCloud)

Oklahoma Lefty is proud to premiere The Rentiers' latest EP Amateur Hour.  Available as a lathe cut 10" on Red Executive and digitally through Death to False Hope RecordsAmateur Hour is four songs of indie pop rock brilliance.

For those knew to the band, The Rentiers is the latest project from Philadelphia, PA's Joel Tannenbaum.  Probably best known for his work in punk outfits Plow United and Ex Friends, Tannenbaum's expressive, clever, and expansive songwriting no longer fit within the constraints of what is considered punk and thus The Rentiers was born.  In 2015 the band released two brilliant EPs and two equally excellent singles for one of the most productive years for a new project.

The new EP opens with the previously released and ridiculously catchy "We Don't Cry" a song about perseverance and trying to get by.
We don’t cry, we don’t cry, we don’t cry, we don’t cry
We just fight until we win or we fight until we die
We don’t lie, we don’t lie, we don’t lie, we don’t lie
Unless we have to
If we try, if we try, if we try, if we try
To carve out a little place in the world for you and I
Then when we die, when we die, when we die, when we die, when we die
Well that’s the part I haven’t figured out yet
Next up is probably The Rentiers' most rockin' song to date in "Jessica and Dan and a Cat Named Bolt Thrower."  The song follows the daily struggles and adventures of a young couple trying to make it in the world.
Jessica and Dan in a cargo van
With a dropped transmission
They set out for Oakland
They made it to Bridgeport
A homeless tabby they found creeping around
A Sunoco parking lot
Jess named it Bolt Thrower
Right on the spot
But when the springtime comes
Everything will be cool
When the springtime comes
They'll have paid back Dan's brother
When the springtime comes
They'll both be working full-time
At the Norristown Zoo
And every day this winter's like a couple of days
And every week is like two or three weeks
Nobody knows that they've peaked until after they've peaked  
"Arms" tackles the need for living a simple life and rejecting material things, with a hook that is to die for.
Don’t make it harder than it needs to be
Just throw your arms up in the air
Don’t make it horrible
Don’t make it sorrowful
Don’t give into despair
Just say “I don’t really care about material things
When I’m hungry I eat and when I’m tired I sleep”
And when I’ve had enough of something I just walk away
I just leave it on the ground and walk away.
The EP closes out with "Hang Out or Die Trying" an anthem about spending time with those that you love and making the most out of life.  It's an uplifting and inspirational song that is the perfect way to end this brilliant record.
You’ve gotta know when to regulate
Know when to dominate
Know when to demonstrate
Know when to compensate
When to de-escalate
You’ve gotta know when to hold it down
Know when to get out of town
You’ve gotta know when to knock it down
Know when to turn around
When to put boots on the ground
You’ve gotta know when to understand
You’ve gotta know when to lend a hand
Know when the ship’s unmanned
Know where it’s gonna land
Know when to break up the band
This is the year that we’re gonna hang out or die trying
Listening to this EP is an absolute joy.  Tannenbaum has a way with words and hooks that sucks you in and pulls on your heart.  These songs will not only bring a smile to your face and make you dance but they'll also make you think and feel, even if you're not exactly sure why.  And that is the mark of a great songwriter; the ability to craft meaning and soul and narrative into music that can touch different people in different and unique ways.  Needs to say, Joel Tannenbaum has this talent and ability in spades.

Amateur Hour not only continues on the path of greatness laid by the band's previous releases, but takes things to a whole new level.  The EP was produced by Scotty Sandwich, who also played guitar, bass, and keyboards on the record.  Tannenbaum was also joined by Rentiers' regulars Mikey Erg on drums and the amazing and angelic Anika Pyle on vocals.  Together these four individuals have created something truly special.  Simply put, Amateur Hour is pop music perfection.

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