Bitter/Sweet, back in 2003 and I’m happy to report that one of the Midwest’s very best roots rock bands is still playing and going strong. Rockin’ Town, their latest independent, self-produced CD shows the veteran trio to be at the top of their game and that is because this collection of fourteen songs rocks harder than either their debut or it’s follow up, Private Drive (2006). While there are a few songs from those discs that are stronger than the fourteen tracks featured here, Rockin' Town is their best complete package because it's more consistent throughout the entire album.
This time around The Basics sound more like 70s hard rockers than a 60s garage band and they are at their very best when kicking butt. The group proved this earlier with the opening tracks from Bitter/Sweet. Both "Does the Bottle Burn," and "Bittersweet Road" should have been played on rock radio, and "In a Crowded Room" deserved to be a smash hit. All would have fit in well on Rockin’ Town.
The new disc offers the boisterous "Do Ya Love Me," a track with a long instrumental introduction that needs to be played loud. Without turning down the volume "Keep On Rockin" channels The Beach Boys well enough to make Brian Wilson proud. "Gonna Miss You (Tommy)" may be the most personal song Cowen has ever written. It's about his close friend and former member of The Basics, Tommy Thompson, who passed away last year. He obviously misses his friend and by motoring down a highway that hard rock hardly ever travels he makes the song quite heartfelt. Other highlights include "While You're Young," which would make a solid hit single.
Once again, the liner notes advise the listener that there are no obscenities on the CD. That makes The Basics a rock band for mature listeners even though everyone else is free to enjoy it too.
Lead singer, guitarist, and producer Cowen wrote all of the songs and, as always, he is ably assisted by Charley Neises on bass and drummer Ben Hahaj who also engineered the recording. Together the latter two make up a rhythm section worthy of any major rock band.
The trio almost broke up a couple years ago. However, both their friendship and their love of music prevented them from passing into musical history so Cowen and the guys continue to prove that they are one of Indiana's top unsigned bands. It’s a crying shame that The Basics have never broken nationally.
You can find out a lot more about these underappreciated rockers at their web page where you can hear a lot of music samples courtesy of Reverbnation.