Best Albums of 2019: The Red Rum Club – Matador

The Red Rum Club – Matador (Rating 5 out of 5)

With Matador, as debut albums go, Liverpool sextet The Rum Club has delivered a record that is sure to be on most of the Best-Of lists once the end of the year rolls around. With a distinct gumbo of a sound that is part 80’s Brit-Rock, part Psychedelic Rock, Part 60’s Surf-Garage, part Tarantino-Noir, and all cool, the texture of the album changes from track to track with even more influences filtering through the ears upon multiple listens.

Starting with the trumpet blazing opener “Angeline” the band comes out with all guns blazing. The song has a definite cinematic feel to it. Thinking back to the final episode of The Sons of Anarchy, this would have been a perfect soundtrack to the last scene with the police chasing Jax Teller into the sunset.

You have now been duly warned, “Would You Rather Be Lonely” is an earworm of a song that you wont be able to shake for a quite a while. A DNA kit might be needed to figure out the various influences that envelope this one, and that is a very good thing. It starts out with Ventures worthy Surf Rock, but quickly morphs into a Rock anthem with the entire band kicking in to show off their immense musical and harmony chops.

“Honey”, another belter of a song, brings comparisons to Low Cut Connie from the other side of the pond, one of several songs that will serve the band well on the summer festival circuit in 2019, and mark our words, you are going to be hearing “Nobody Comes Out Alive” on a cable or streaming series in the very near future, maybe even on the next True Detective, or the new season of Ray Donovan. And, just a note to the band, I know you need to make money, but If I hear this on a BMW commercial with a video of a car barreling down the Pacific Coast Highway, after toasting you with a robust “Good On Ya”, there will be a tinge of another great band gives up their artistic soul regret likely resulting in a three day bender with Matador on constant replay. Then again if this happens, everybody wins.

In a bit of a Sophie’s choice internal dilemma, if we must choose, “Calexico” comes out as a favorite song on the album. Since the album was only officially released a couple of hours ago and I have only listened to the record 4 times, and “Calexico” probably more than ten times now, this ranking may change, however as of now, the song remains the same. Checking off all of the musical touch points; infectious rhythm, passionate vocals, subtle mariachi horns, all showing off a band that is as tight as any in the business right now.

Stick with “Nobody Get’s Out Alive” past the first 30 seconds or so when panic sets in as the wheels seem to start coming off with the song drifting ever so slightly into U2 territory. But fear not, in very short order the entire affair seems to shift into some eclectic and brilliant mix that could have been a long lost early INXS single. All is right with the world as this one stacks up as one of the top three tunes on the album.

Ending with the title track “Matador” is somewhat of bold move, but in some ways it seems to make perfect sense. The vibe slows down with the musical landscape significantly widened, making this a perfect closer to the album, and a song in my minds ear, I can see as a beautiful closer to a great live show as they tour the country.

I only have one question for this, one of my new favorite bands. What are you doing Super Bowl Sunday?

— Bernie Sparrow —