A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that talked about Hard Rock, the company behind all the music themed restaurants across the globe, and their foray into the world of creating music with their new label, Hard Rock Records. The first band they signed and decided to work with was Rosco Bandana, a septet from Mississippi. We don’t often have the chance to use the term, but I’d say that this band has produced a quality “swamp rock” album.
“Time To Begin” walks the fine line between country and southern rock and ends up as something you’d expect to hear in the bayou. The band does upbeat, rock songs and slower country sounding songs. They do melodic harmony driven love songs and rock songs about lost love. It’s a typical debut theme-wise, but not much else is typical. Lead singer Jason Sanford can channel Bob Dylan, and does on “Radio Band Singer” and “Heartbreak Shape”. The music often sounds a little like Lynyrd Skynyrd, though not quite so much rock. It’s more southern than NeedtoBreathe or The Black Crowes but less country than a typical country musician.
One of the most satisfying songs on the album is “Black Ol’ Water”, a song that sounds very much like a 50s country rock song sung by Conor Oberst. This band has found a way to combine what’s great about modern music with traditional Mississippi sounds. This song in particular is throw back, all it’s honky tonk goodness and all female chorus. “Baby, it’s true about me and you,/ Baby, it’s you I’ve been lookin’ to.” Also, “Tangled Up” is another great honky tonk rock song.
“Woe Is Me” is the most traditional rock song on the album, one sung fully in male/female harmony and with a mandolin for some extra touch. It begins with the line “Woe is me, woe is me, my baby left me” and, from there, turns into a song that it’s hard to not sing along with and play air instruments. “By and By” is a slower more introspective song and one that balances the album out really nicely.
Overall, this is an excellent debut from a Mississippi born and bred southern rock band. It’s a unique sound that Rosco Bandana have created and an album that, while lacking that standout track, is solid from top to bottom. Look for many more albums like this from this newly discovered swamp rock band.