Raw and honest the debut album from US folk based rock band The Ready Stance is a surprising and very enjoyable release. Not an area of music that inspires much true enthusiasm here the expectations were not high though openly willing to be convinced by Damndest and it certainly does a great job of persuasion. The album is a vibrant and pleasing release which comes from the floors and rooms of everyday life, offering a dusty reality and eagerness from the heart of lives like ours. It is a collection of eclectic tales inspired from the lives of stranger than fiction moments and the factual reality of the world we live and walk. Mostly though it is eleven songs which makes spending time with Damndest a pleasure.
The seeds of The Ready Stance began with guitarist/songwriter Wes Pence who was the creative force behind nineties band Middlemarch. He met up with singer/guitarist Chase Johnson in a story all bands should have in their locker. In his own words “I was walking home one night and happened to glance in the open window of a house on my block. Inside were a couple guitars and fliers for shows by the Replacements and other bands I loved—really out of place for the neighborhood. Then this guy walked out on the porch…” This was the beginning of The Ready Stance with the duo being joined by drummer Eric Moreton (also previously in Middlemarch) and music veteran Randy Cheek (The Libertines U.S, Ass Ponys) on bass (replacing Paolo Conti who plays on the album). Even before offering live show to the world the band recorded Damndest with advanced tracks getting strong approval from the likes of Stan Demeski of The Feelies, Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club maestro Chris Frantz, and Chuck Cleaver (Ass Ponys, Wussy). Listening to the album it is no surprise, its Americana lined mix of open inventive guitars, driven rhythms, and full striking melodies an immediate friend to the ear.
The album starts with a great gnarly bass opening to Rancho Cristo, the grumbling beckoning irresistible and the lead into the eager guitar melodies that explode within the ear. The song is an instantly captivating piece of enthused rock with a raw edge, a pleasurable rumble within the ear and a great start to light up eagerness for more of the same. The following Wrecking Ball and Long Arm continue the effective sounds even if with a slightly less infectious lure than the opener but they are equal in songwriting prowess and pleasing fuel for the senses.
It is from Disgruntled that things take another distinct rise as the album moves into its heart. The song swaggers with a sure touch and incisive blend of rusty melodies and discordance rifled guitars to offer a great and striking impactful consumption. As mentioned this marks an elevation to the already strong level but it is with a consecutive trio of songs that the album hits home the deepest.
The garage rock flavoured Very Necessary strikes first to tease and rough up the senses to great satisfaction. Slightly punk, just a little Who spiced, and all boisterous melodies and jangly impetuous guitar pleasure the song pulls one further into the warm infectiousness of the album. The following Marathon with its Bowie like opening continues the irresistible teasing guitar flourishes. Inspired by the local legend of a confused fistfight between a speech-impaired gas station attendant and a customer with a similar affliction it is a lyrical urban legend with the most compulsive soundtrack and further evidence of the humour and catchy feel of the release. The third song is Real America and arguably the best song on the album. With a Squeeze/Tom Petty lilt coated in a layer of Talking Heads the song lights up thoughts and ear alike, a pop rock song with insatiable hooks and a finely crafted body.
Completed by just as enjoyable songs in the shape of Steamship Moselle a song about an 1838 maritime explosion which saw an ill-fated minister catapulted to the riverbank clutching a still dry bible, and the enchanting closer Glow, to name two, Damndest is an album that leaves one fully satisfied and eager to dive right back into its fulfilling depths. With the release The Ready Stance gives ample reason and evidence to why they have been acclaimed by so many and is sure to garner even greater and just as eager praise from it as it finds many more willing ears.