Run Doris Run - The Bigger Picture Release Date: 2006 Record Label: Unsigned
It is not a well-kept secret that I found Run Doris Run's debut EP, Five More Songs and You Can Go Home, well, pretty bad. The band members were all extremely young to be recording an EP, and it was readily apparent. While a low tally in the age column can grant forgiveness in a critical sense, it makes a hill of beans of a difference to the consumer and listener. We all just want good music to rock out to, and Five More Songs just fell far short of that mark with its underdeveloped lyrics, off-key vocals, and somewhat simplistic musicianship.
After I reviewed the band's first EP, the group's manager politely contacted me to thank me for doing the review. In doing so, he professed his belief in this band that was "going places." I admired this loyalty, dedication, and belief in those under his wing, but given the subject matter in question, though, I thought he was marginally nuts. Alas, when he contacted me to review Run Doris Run's follow-up, The Bigger Picture, I figured I would get to see how crazy this man really was, and how ill-rooted his convictions might be.
Reviewers, by nature, can be victims of ego and pride issues to a far greater extent than your average music snob, even. But for me, there is nothing I would rather see than a band progressing out of the doldrums to disprove a prior critical judgment. Namely, I am more than willing to eat crow. And to be succinct, Run Doris Run is making me do just that with this release. As the band returns, there is little to no traceability to that ho-hum EP that seems so far removed from the band we have before us now. Run Doris Run has grown up. Fast.
The maturation the boys exhibit is revealed right from the intro of "From Now On," with its smooth drum rolls and prickly riff. Perhaps the most notable change, though, is when Ryan Koppel's vocals chime in with a sound that is entirely foreign when compared to his last go-round. Gone is the feeble, subpar Will Salazar imitation, and now present is a brash, confident, more new-age Chris Conley emulation. Koppel goes rough and raw ("Never Gonna Come Back"), and sing-along-able anthemic ("I Am the Lie"), but does still fall into monotony ("Turn It All Around") at times. Regardless, the improvement is massive, and incredibly welcome.
Musically, as well, RDR has some new tricks to toss into the ring in kind. The band is no longer afraid to tear into a flashy riff, roll out a sexy bass intro, or kick out a slick drum fill. Nevertheless, the verse writing is a little weak, and tends to rely on the same bouncy, repetitive crunch formula for tracks like "From Now On" and "Turn It All Around." And yes, the lyrics are still skewed a little towards the contrived and simple, but at least there are no songs about getting shot with Super Soakers on The Bigger Picture. And through it all, the most astonishing part about The Bigger Picture is the fact that "I Am the Lie" is the song I never thought Run Doris Run had in them - the song that says this band is well worth signing. With its overtly triumphant chorus, rocking guitar lines, and high production values, "Lie" is a tough song to argue against.
So, yes, Run Doris Run still has some growing to do to "get there." But now, Russel, I am with you in believing that these guys might make it. Big improvement all around, and certainly worth checking out.
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