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Rough and Tumble Rock and Roll
Posted May 10, 2013
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer


In addition to wracking up five incredibly solid full-length albums over the past seven years, rock group House of Heroes has also created a significant number of remixes, acoustic renditions, and singles on the side.

Unless you've been following them from the beginning, you probably haven't had a chance to grab each of these gems as they were released, and thus The Knock Down Drag Outs collection was born, providing a way to get those side selections into fans' hands.
 
Because of the fact that it's a compilation album, the 19 songs that compose The Knock Down Drag Outs are extremely diverse. The album begins with a set of B-sides and songs previously only available with EPs or singles.

The album starts with lead singer Tim Skipper showing off the grittier side of his vocal range on "Dead," spitting "I might be dead by the time you hear this song." This is an example of the classic gritty rock and roll side of House Of Heroes at its finest, complete with raw guitar riffs and punch-in-the gut lyrics pumped full of adrenaline. This is a sound that comes out again on "Galveston," a narrative track about some of the heartache of growing up, and also on "The Young and The Brutal"--an anthem for a dangerously restless and apathetic generation looking for something for which they can fight.
 
The foursome has more up their sleeves than just their rock and roll sensibilities, which quickly becomes apparent with "Choose Your Blade." The song details a moonlit confrontation with your own personal demons, framed in folk-style songwriting and instrumentation that builds a subtle Western vibe. That same slight twang comes out again on "Your Casualty," a song which also showcases the upper stretches of Tim Skipper's vocal range as his voice climbs through the words "cast me out on bitter winds, a diamond in the sun." "New Moon" captures more of the folk side again, both musically and in the vividly poetic lyrics.
 
"Patient" is the stand-out ballad of the collection, sung like a vulnerably earnest prayer over a soft piano backdrop, confessing, "I see you, and I know the truth / And I still want you, you are the grace that I believe in." The song "Ghost" is a ballad more in the vein of classic country, following the story of a small town boy who gets mixed in with the wrong crowd and loses the ones he loves in the process.
 
The collection includes two acoustic arrangements of tracks from House Of Heroes' 2006 release Say No More. "If" remains upbeat and almost danceable despite the acoustic re-working. "Serial Sleepers" takes on a much more haunting feeling with a restrained arrangement bringing out the best of Tim Skipper's piercingly clear, controlled vocals.
 
A generous three covers of classic songs by The Beatles are also included, a fitting decision given that the band has commonly been hailed as a modern-day incarnation of that iconic rock group. Classics "Can't Buy Me Love," "It Won't Be Long," and "Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da" all get the House Of Heroes treatment, retaining the core of the original while gaining a slightly harder rock edge. Here the four members work together to pull off many of the cornerstone harmonies of the originals while still very much retaining their own musical voice.
 
Two songs from last summer's Cold Hard Want get a thorough remix treatment. Solomon Olds (Soul Glow Activatur) of Family Force 5 remixed "Remember The Empire," creating a much more textured, danceable version of the song without losing the strong melody. The McSwagger remix of "Suspect" takes a more complete overhaul approach, turning the rock tune into a surprisingly polished club-styled pop song.
 
The collection wraps up with an intriguing partially acapella mashup of tracks from 2010's Suburba. The result is a somewhat haunting medley of the voices of suburban American youth.
 
Closing Thoughts:
This is an incredibly diverse collection that beautifully represents House Of Heroes's strengths in a variety of areas, making it the perfect addition to any fan's collection and a potential positive introduction for anyone wanting to give them a try. House Of Heroes is a rock band as rock and roll should be— raw, occasionally tongue in cheek, layered without being overly complex, and always deeply human as it addresses growing up, relating to others, and seeking to know God.

Song to Download Now:
"Patient" (Get it on iTunes here.)

View All Music And Book Reviews By MaryNikkel_NRT | View MaryNikkel_NRT's Profile

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