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Song of the Day: ‘Brave Man’s Death’ by J Roddy Walston and the Business

By Staff | Aug 31, 2010

These days rock bands with pianos rarely rock and they sure as hell don’t roll. Perhaps that’s why J Roddy Walston and the Business is so refreshing.

For one, this isn’t rock, but rock ‘n’ roll. There’s a big difference.

With a name and sound that’s pure vintage rock ‘n’ roll, J Roddy, the group’s singer, songwriter and pianist, leads his Vagrant-based band into, thankfully, unadorned performances void of pretense. There are no sub-levels of  genre here. 

This is rock ‘n’ roll as it was in the ’50s. This is rock ‘n’ roll descended from Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis and James Brown. This is rock ‘n’ roll raised in the Christ-haunted South, rife with gospel influences. This is rock ‘n’ roll gritty as it should be.

This is also, not coincidentally, the most infectiously enjoyable album I’ve heard all year, right next to Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes’ self-titled disc. If you can’t tell yet, I’m totally in love with this album and band right now. 

The hardest choice was deciding which song to post. There’s the lead-in track, "Don’t Break the Needle," which is the most rollicking and frenzied on the album. There’s "Full Grown Man," a song with a wonderful backing of female singers that hint at doo-wop. There’s "Used to Did," which perfectly utilizes J Roddy’s approach to the piano (think more rhythm guitar and less Billy Joel). 

Finally, I settled on "Brave Man’s Death," which appears to be the band’s lead single and perfectly showcases J Roddy’s gravely voice and all the underlying pain it entails. The subject matter is also wonderfully rock ‘n’ roll, with lines about finally earning his father’s respect after shooting him dead.

You won’t hear that on a Nickelback album. And that’s exactly why this isn’t, thank the God of the South, rock, but rock ‘n’ roll.