Home Read Albums Of The Week: The Record Company | The 4th Album

Albums Of The Week: The Record Company | The 4th Album

After expanding their horizons on the underappreciated Play Loud, the California trio beat a hasty retreat straight back to their crowdpleasing, blues-rock comfort zone.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “When The Record Company pick up their instruments, the members — Chris Vos (guitar, lead vocals, harmonica), Alex Stiff (bass, backing vocals) and Marc Cazorla (drums, backing vocals) participate in a musical back-and-forth akin to a formative and supportive conversation among siblings. The nuances of their personalities seep through loose, bluesy guitar leads, airtight drum grooves, thick bass, and vividly evocative lyrics.

With such fluidity, the musicians respond to one another so instinctually you’d swear they were telepathically linked. However, there’s no such superpower necessary when you’ve got the closest thing to a brotherhood that three musicians unrelated by blood can share…

At 2 p.m. on the final day of business for the music industry in 2022, The Record Company got a telephone call from the head of their label, who’d been sitting on their new demos for months while the band sat in limbo. It was a scene out of a movie about the bad luck bands sometimes have with big record labels: A pleasant “hello” led to a Charlie Brown’s teacher murmur that amounted to “you’re dropped from the label, Happy Christmas, fellas.”

“It was tough to swallow,” says bassist and in-house producer Stiff, “because we had already set out to write the most stripped-back and raw record we’d done in years, and they had demos of this new music, and ultimately dropped us. Combine that with some new economic realities, a canceled tour, and we really felt like everything was crashing down at once.”

On The 4th Album, The Record Company see that rejection as a rite of renewal, a way to cleanse themselves, to start over. They head back to their roots: Creating the raw, self-produced, blues-based music that in past years earned them two No. 1 songs at AAA radio, a Grammy nomination and brought them from playing small clubs to arena tours supporting John Mayer and Bob Seger.

Talking about the making of the album, Stiff says: “The only way to make this record was to go back to basics. We still had the cheap recording gear from our first album including the garage-sale drum set, but we had to find the songs and the spirit. We dug really deep on the songwriting, which captures where we were emotionally during this time (between record labels).

“If the lyrics were gonna be raw and honest, the music needed to be as well. We put away fancy production tricks and click tracks in favor of a more stripped-back approach. That was the general theme of this record, to keep the music raw. It’s a return to form in a way, but we’re still growing.”

The Record Company have experienced everything as a family since forming back in 2011. Along the way, they served up a tested-and-proven epic in the form of their 2016 debut, Give It Back To You. The release earned a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Contemporary Blues Album and spawned the single Off The Ground, which reached No. 1 at AAA radio and tallied nearly 40 million total streams and counting.

Between stunning late-night television appearances and extensive touring (in addition to headlining coast-to-coast), the band maintained this momentum with 2018’s All Of This Life. In 2021 they released the envelope-pushing Play Loud. Late that year, the guys hunkered down and commenced creating what would become their fourth LP. Working out of an intimate home studio in Beachwood Canyon, they wrote, recorded and self-produced the music. Outside of cutting drums at the legendary Sunset Sound, it proved to be a homegrown affair through and through.

Photo by Travis Shinn.

The single Talk To Me features a bass that practically dances atop a simmering groove, punctuated by tambourine before the guitar kicks back in as Chris urges, “So, why don’t you talk to me?” Stiff says about the song, “A common theme on this record was keeping the sound raw and back-to-basics. With Talk To Me, we used the same junky yard sale drum set heard on our earliest recordings. When the question came up later whether to re-record the song in a more professional studio setting, we voted that the original spirit was more important than polish, and we left that groove intact. A lot of The 4th Album follows this same vision.”

Second single Dance On Mondays features guitar cries through a hypnotically hummable bassline and head-nodding beat. The chantable hook instantly takes hold with grit and gusto as Chris affirms, “I don’t dance on Mondays.” Alex recalls: “Somebody asked me to go see a band on a Monday night, and I just said, ‘I don’t dance on Mondays’. I wrote it down in my phone. The phrase signifies, ‘I’m taking my life back, and I’m not going to dance for anybody.’ ”

Other songs on the album include I Found Heaven (In My Darkest Days), Highway Lady, Patterns, Roll With It, Bad Light, Control My Heart Blues, I’m Working and You Made A Mistake. “I’d love for people to hear this record and feel like they’re in the house with us making it,” Alex leaves off. “I want them to feel like they’re part of this unpolished and homemade thing, because that’s what we were trying to get back to.”

Drummer Cazorla concludes: “We’re a trio, and that’s the completion of this circle. The fourth member of this group is the space between us. We embrace that space as part of the raw element. That’s what we explored on this album, and it’s beautiful. We can’t wait to bring it on the road.”


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