The Only Children - Keeper Of Youth
Record Label - Sidecho Records
Release Date - May 22, 2007
The Only Children is a no frills rock band hailing from Lawrence, Kansas and is comprised of the husband and wife duo Josh Berwanger and Heidi-Lynne Gluck and guitarist/organist Ricky Salthouse. Along with the core group of band members, there is a cast of supporting musicians who play on the record that range from former Get Up Kid’s Matt Pryor and Ryan Pope to Hot Rod Circuit’s Casey Prestwood. Josh Berwanger is instantly recognizable by most readers on this site for his role in the popular indie band The Anniversary and everyone knows it is a real bitch for musicians to escape the shadows of their former bands, so that will probably be the only mention of Berwanger’s past for this review.
“Tired Of This Town” is the lead-off track on Keeper Of Youth and wastes no time in letting the listener know this is a pure rock and roll record through and through and if you are looking for The Anniversary Part Two you are wasting your time. This track is full of pure rock grit and swagger and the use of harmonica adds a nice southern-rock touch to the track. This is Matt Pryor’s only cameo on this record and provides backing vocals while Pryor’s fellow New Amsterdams band mate Christian Jankowski handles drum duties. Things calm down with the reggae influenced “Hide Your Sorrow”, which takes away the energy established by “Tired Of This Town” , but Berwanger and Co. kick things back into gear with the pure southern-rock burner “Amen Amen”. The track contains plenty of classic rock inspired guitar solos and country undertones, but there is a surprisingly entertaining twist when the gospel inspired background vocals kick in over the guitar, complete with all the handclapping accompaniment you could ask for.
The Only Children take a break from the alt-country and rock and roll format of the album with “Back To You” , a pop leaning ballad complete with piano and string accompaniment. Most of the tracks on Keeper Of Youth have a gritty feel, however “Back To You” has a more polished sound. “Dusty Magazines” is a cynical rocker that comments on the way major record labels throw piles of money at bands who have barely toured just because they happen to play a style of music that is currently popular, while hardworking bands Berwanger see as good are passed over. While the song itself is a simple yet enjoyable musically, the whole “bashing on record label’s” song is becoming quite trite. “Something Like Me” is a stripped down foray into folk with just Berwanger playing acoustic and harmonica while Gluck provides backing vocals while “1969” is an alt-country rocker that has more melodic leanings than its other counterparts.
Keeper Of Youth is an album that takes from many influences that most kid’s parents listen to and modernizes it with a few familiar faces to expose a whole new generation to the sounds of the past. While some kids may be embarrassed to listen to a record their parents own and think is cool, they may be more likely to discover classic rock from Keeper Of Youth because it features some familiar faces. The album as a whole is enjoyable but not spectacular by any means. Songs such as “Hide Your Sorrow” and “Invisible Streets” bring down the overall energy of the record and do not evoke many images while songs like “Tired Of This Town” and “Amen Amen” make me visualize dive bars with lots of bikers and people wearing cowboy hats drinking copious amounts of beer and stumbling around piss drunk. While some listeners may favor the more calm offerings of Keeper Of Youth, I wish the band would have stuck with the more upbeat and edgy rock sound found on “Amen Amen” and “Tired Of This Town”. For those who are looking for a breather from their normal listening routine or have a slight interest in classic rock, Keeper Of Youth is an album worth checking out, but be careful if you are looking for straight-up rockers as those moments are few and far between.