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Album Review: The Commoners - Restless

There are a bunch of bands that I would define as throwback bands. Bands that try to evoke the same rock ‘n’ roll philosophy, style and production as that decades past. Some come off as completely derivative of the genre stereotypes and never break out into their own identities. Then you have bands like The Commoners, which I feel have some real legs. Not only do they successfully capture that spirit of the classic rock era, but they modernise it in such a spectacular way. By levelling up the quality in production and writing with genre-fluidity. The super clean and punchy production that shines on record, streaming or wherever you listen to music. This is my introduction to them and may I say, what an introduction. This new record Restless is filled to the brim with golden vocals, beautiful instrumentation and quality writing. It really is the kind of music that makes you want to stand up and pay attention. 

So, who are they? The Commoners hail from Toronto, Canada and comprise members: Chris Medhurst (vocals/guitar), Ben Spiller (bass), Ross Citrullo (lead guitar), and Adam Cannon (drums) and are usually joined by organist Miles Evan Branagh. Together they make a sound that I would call blues-rock adjacent to 90s college rock. Capturing that old-school sound with a depth of songwriting that you’d find in your first-rate heavy hitters. Punchy choruses, big sounding riffs, and lots of pretty musicianship that you can just feel on the surface. When you dig a little deeper you find an acute attention to detail. The way they depict people, places and situations in their words is just fascinating.  Be it “Body and Soul” which really puts you in the mindset of the narrator, or the heart-warming ballad “See You Again” which brings a smile to my face, as Chris’s vocals just shine as he brings the words to life. It almost feels like a soul record in places. I’m just in awe of how the band mixes and matches genre styles and influences as they effortlessly navigate through; blues, rock, soul, country, hell there’s even gospel elements that just elevate their sound over the top!

If we’re talking from a pure production standpoint they sound immense. In their bio on their website, they describe themselves as “A group that was cobbled together over a decade”. Well, you could have fooled me because they sound incredibly coherent and cohesive. This sounds like an ideal set of characteristics that form some of the better bands I listen to. The hard rock elements lend their way to the more melodic parts really well and The Commoners make it sound so easy. This album, as a whole, feels complete. All of those individual little parts add up to something really beautiful. When it was over and the last notes of “All That We Have” rang out, it made me want to dive right back in from the start, straight back into the loud crash of “Devil Teasin’ Me”. 

Like, I’ve wrecked my brain to find a flaw with this album and I’ve come up short each time. I mean, if I really stretch it, if you’re not into the blues drawl then maybe you might be put off slightly. Then I’d argue that the album has more than enough to keep you invested. Poetic ballads like the title track “Restless”, straight-up rock ‘n’ roll tracks like “Gone Without Warning” or pure and authentic anthems like “Too Soon To Know You” and the aforementioned “See You Again”. I do think that, as long as you even remotely like rock music, there is a little something here for you. 

What else can I really say about this album? I usually don’t pick things to review unless I have a really strong feeling about it. Restless has struck a chord with me and it caters to everything I want in music. To be fair, there’s not a lot I demand in music, just two things, heart and soul. I’ll be honest with you dear reader, this record has both by the bucket full. You can feel it from their souls to their pens, to the record.


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