Album Review: J. Roddy Walston & The Business – Destroyers Of The Soft Life

If you ever wondered what an extremely intoxicated Led Zeppelin sounds like, there’s no other modern rock band that fits the description than J. Roddy Walston & The Business. It took them a couple of records worth of material to gain some sort of recognition in the indie-folk rock spotlight and now the Richmond, Virginia quartet is back with their fourth full length release Destroyers Of The Soft Life.

From the basic, simple and chant-like yet screechingly loud elements of the first song You Know Me Better, fans can tell that the band is simply warming up the momentum of the album and way more energy is on the way. At the very start of the drumbeat on Blade Of Truth the action builds and builds for the first major memorable guitar melody of the album. The song continues on with wailing solos, energetic drum fills and powerhouse vocals that shapes the song to be outstanding.

Ways presents a major pop side of J. Roddy’s style that hasn’t truly been shared on previous works. The chorus features a call and answer echo that further defines this unique rock pop style. The general momentum and attitude of the entire album is definitely the most emo/pop style heard from this band, but that will never stop the lightning drum shocks and uplifting vocal and guitar tremors that Walston and his business bring to the table on every record and every tour.

Heart Is Free continues this new/experimental direction, bringing a spacey, heavily computerized effect to the album. While the instruments are subtle on this track, the song is designed to showcase the captivating power of Waltson’s raw, rugged shrieks.

When the band dropped the first single The Wanting, fans probably had to listen back a few times because the emo/pop style doesn’t really register with a typical J. Roddy Walston & The Business fan. The band is known for it’s classic hard rock hooks and bruisingly loud energy. While The Wanting surely can reach volume peaks, the “loud” that defines J. Roddy doesn’t meet the hard rock peaks that are achieved on earlier albums.

Bad Habits is another poppy, sing-along 80’s vibe anthem. The style is interesting mixed with the southern rock raw Walston style and provides enough drive to keep listeners entertained and intrigued. Bleed Out is another album highlight, with aggressive electric guitar licks, heavy drums and of course J. Roddy absolutely sings his heart out on this track. The memorable, simple structured chorus is one of the finest hooks in the entire band repertoire. Although Destroyers Of The Soft Life was a little disappointing, and compared to older albums rates way softer and lower energy, there are moments on this record that can not go unnoticed to true J. Roddy Walston & The Business fans, because if they do, they are forgetting that Walston isn’t just a regular southern rock piano man shirker. He’s a legitimate hard rock/pop singer-songwriter with a southern folk twang.

Scott J. Herman