No Way Jose – Rice, Beans, and Rock ‘N Roll
Record Label: Pee Shy Records
Release Date: June 22, 2007
And suddenly, the end of summer is in sight. It’s that time when people glance out of the corners of their eyes at the calendar and twinges of tension fill the air. Everyone realizes the number of days they can call in sick to work and hit the beach are quickly decreasing. Kids are stocking up on their pens, pencils, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles binders (I was a Raphael man myself). When driving around town, you’re more likely to hear Saves the Day’s Through Being Cool and Midtown’s Living Well is the Best Revenge blaring from car windows than Brand New’s The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me as people try to maintain a choke-hold on the season through the wonderful crutch that is the ‘summer album.’
Everyone has their own summer album of choice; mine’s totally cliché, but God help me, when the sun is shining, I can’t get enough of The Ataris’ So Long, Astoria. It’s about time to break them out for the countdown to crunchy leaves, pumpkins, and that creepy middle-aged guy from down the street who insists on dressing up for Halloween every year.
While it would be criminal to suggest a summer album could get old (they’re generally chosen based on staying power and a myriad of associated memories), the time may come when the year’s end-of-season indoctrination requires an injection of freshness. If that’s the case, give No Way Jose’s Rice, Beans, and Rock ‘N Roll a try.
A seven track EP infused with fast-paced drums, power chords, and lyrical simplicity, Rice, Beans, and Rock ‘N Roll affords the listener the opportunity to truly turn it up and tune out. The self-described “Spanglish punk” band offers peppy rock that keeps the head nodding and toe tapping with a seamless mixture of Spanish and English lyrics. For such a quick release (clocking in at just over twenty minutes), the EP showcases nice variety from the speed punk of the album opener “Wannabe”, to the devilishly cool “Stripper”, to the aggression of the sure-to-be-fan-favorite “Motherfucker.” There’s a familiarity here that is complemented well by the Southern Californian Spanish influence, much like relaxing in a well-worn Lay-Z Boy while watching Telemundo.
There is, however, a comfort zone from which No Way Jose does not deviate, so don’t visit the buffet line expecting to be knocked out by some succulent new dish. The uncomplicated lyrics certainly don’t get in the way of the congenial punk sound, and lines like “Vive tu vida, vive tu vida / Don’t worry, toda va estar bien (‘Live your life, live your life / Don’t worry, everything will be ok’)” propel the good-natured attitude. There are a few high notes that singer Jose Morales can’t quite grasp, but overall, the musicianship is up to par with similar verse-chorus-verse-chorus punk acts.
It’s that time of the year, and while No Way Jose aren’t re-writing the rule book, Rice, Beans, and Rock ‘N Roll is an entertaining summer soundtrack that can also warm the heart in the cold of winter.