Sound — 9
R. Father and The Dashing Bastards sounds like the title of a TV series on cable television, but they are actually a rock quintet who hail from Austin, Texas, the crossroads where folk, country, blues, and rock music come together. Fronted by lead singer/guitarist Richi Fatheree, the band's self-titled EP produced by Erik Wofford at Cacophony Recorders is a fusion of glam rock and power punk with overtones of folk-pop. Every track has an acoustic framework embellished by crunching guitars performed by Jason Adams and Tony Nelson and propelled by the stout thrusts of drummer Thomas Fuller and bassist Donovan Pierce. The 5-track EP concentrates on the scorching chords of the guitars creating sharp spikes along "Bicentennial" and vibrating effects across "What You Said". Fatheree's vocals have a storytelling touch reminiscent of John Lennon while the guitars circling the verses fire and soar as if under siege. The glam rock flourishes of "Older Children" contrast the lulling notes opening "House On 9" which build up in the outro into an entanglement of billowing crescendos. The band follows a similar pattern in "Shift 66" opening the track with slow, sullen chord rotations which branch out into the guitars and the rhythm section slamming and crashing into a bristling torrent. Fatheree's vocals offset the rampage by holding an even keel in his pitch, once more similarly to John Lennon.
Lyrics — 8
One major lyrical theme in the album is the loss of joy and fulfillment as time goes by shown in "Bicentennial" with verses that reflect, "I recall a comfort that I'm craving now / I miss it madly / I remember kindness in that time / I know I'm seeing scenes selected for my thrill, but I get to choose the scenes I save / I'm taken back to when / I want to go to when." The lyrics speak to the listener and might even speak for some listeners in certain cases like the wishful thinking described in "What You Said" as Fatheree muses, "You found another pageant from another world, and it looks like you can hold your own in the biggest pond / God I'd love to swim with you again, but I know I never will / There was a time when they said our names together / We shared each other's space, and we spent each other's time... Maybe I'll escort you to the comic ball / I'll fly to your island / Maybe you'll see me as somebody else this time." Conversely, the lyrics in "House On 9" use metaphors to convey inner turmoil as Fatheree tells, "The empty house on nine street is making noise again / In the wooden house that two would call their tomb there is screaming loud and angry / The flaming tongues had licked the skin from their faces, but they're shouting loud as ever / The smoke could cheat the race with air to their lungs / So now they fight forever." The visuals contrast the images described in "Older Children" which is about finding physical fulfillment, "We would meet in a mix of a common nerves, and in the indoor city we'd make contact with our awkward fingers / Later in your room we'd listen for the door, and urgently explore the places you and I had never been before." The final track "Shift 66" projects gloomy pictures of the present but always reaching for more as Fatheree chronicles, "Make the moan of morning's mourning / Start it all again... I wish I wasn't here / There's so much more to breathe for / Struggle through the tasks of toil staring at a screen... It's not so easy for me / Wake up / Ho-hum / It's another sunny day spent the same way."
Overall Impression — 9
R. Father and The Dashing Bastards might remind fans of the 90s grunge period when the lyrics predominantly gravitated to gloomy moods and an unfulfilling life, but the band's music has the spiraling thrusts and magnitude of power punk. The fusion has a contemporary edge that spearheads a present phase in modern rock. The lyrics talk about a lot of loss but the music is motivating and geared towards surging forward.