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The Golden Republic
by David E. Demarest

Everyone’s always asking me, “Who’ll be the next hot band to come out of Kansas City, Missouri?”  Okay, so you’re probably not thinking that exactly, but maybe you should be.  And if by some curious coincidence you were already wondering, then how fortunate for this review, because I can tell you right now that the answer is The Golden Republic’s self titled debut album, released on Feb 8th, 2005.

Ben Grimes fronts the band, and has a really impressive range of voice and an equally impressive understanding of control and restraint when necessary.  He seems as comfortable on the fast moving rock tracks as during the moments that call for extended pitch control.  I’d say Ben would make it to about the fourth round of American Idol before America’s 12 year olds voted him off for not being a duche.  (Sorry Clay Aiken fans!)   Kenn Jankowski’s work on lead guitar provides appropriate highlights and counter melodies on tracks like “Things we do” while bringing funky little riffs to songs like “Robots.”  Throughout it all Harry Anderson (on the bass) and band co-founder Ryan Shank (drums) are very solid, though they don’t really get to showcase their considerable talent until the second half of the album. 

While the boys from Kansas City are still a little rough around the edges, I can already tell that this is the kind of band you’re going to want to go see live.  Expect a hell of show, based on solid musicianship and a lot of energy.  That’s the feel packed into nearly every one of the eleven songs on their first full length release.  Of course, there’s a lot on the album that you probably won’t get to catch in the live show, because this is definitely a nicely mixed album, the product of a great deal of studio time, resulting in perfect balancing and well thought out blends and contrasts used to create the whole sound.  The studio time also gave The Golden Republic a chance to pull in some outside help in the form of cello, sax, and trombone work on a few songs to help round out what is otherwise a mostly traditional rock band sound.

Although The Golden Republic is an album that I’ll keep in rotation for quite a while, there are some rough edges.  For starters, the album leads with what is probably it’s weakest track and doesn’t really get going until the third song in.  Also - and this has nothing to do with much of anything, but I thought I’d include it anyway – the album’s cover photo is sketchy as hell, and to be honest it freaks me out a little bit.  It’d be perfectly appropriate if the album had been named “Awkward Kiss,” but otherwise I think they could have done better.

Once it gets going, The Golden Republic is a hard album to turn away from.  Artistically mixed and mastered, full of clever hesitations and funky (for rock) beats, it’s equally groundbreaking and traditional rock and roll.  The entire album is anchored by quality writing and good musicianship, which is the receipt for a solid album.  I would not hesitate to recommend this album, or The Golden Republic as a live show, to anyone.

The Golden Republic
Label: Astralwerks
Turning Of The World
You Almost Had It
She's So Cold
I'll Do Anything
Things We Do
Rows Of People
Not My Kind
Full Of Yourself You Get Old

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