I was going to start off this feature on Fort McLeod, Alberta’s Sophmore Jakes by saying how that area of Alberta is not exactly a hotbed of rock and roll, yadda, yadda, yadda, you know the typical line when writing about a band from a small town but I don’t think you can readily say that anymore. These days music can filter into any town with a net connection regardless of whether you live on the prairies or up near the Arctic Circle so when the band cites the Clash, the Police, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Blink 182 as influences it’s pretty clear that the spirit of rock and roll infiltrates pretty much anywhere it can thank God.
The Sophmore Jakes are a very cool trio that describe their music as “power pop punk rock” which is about as good a description as any since they definitely have to my ears a Green Day-vibe to them (your mileage as always may vary). Consisting of Ryland Moranz on guitar and vocals, Garent Goodrich on drums and Geoff Markey on bass, the band has managed to produce in their first full-length CD ten great, catchy high quality tracks with not even a hint of filler. Of course, being together since they were 15 years old (they now range in age from 19 – 21) has allowed them the time to really hone their chops and whether on CD or during their explosive live show they prove that they’ve got what it takes to “make it.”
Since discovering the band I have played Fast Bullets For Fast Kids on the Podcast and Heart Attacks Make Happy Endings on the radio show but there are quite a few more I could and will play. Whether it’s the strident rockers The Opener, Echo Charlie or Confused or the slow-tempo and beautiful The Flight Home Means More, there is more than enough on this CD to satisfy any rocker, indie or otherwise. And luckily for you they are embarking on an extensive North American tour starting in August so you will be able to get your taste of their energetic live show yourself.
It’s a relief to know that there are still kids in small towns everywhere willing to strap on a guitar and cobble together a set of drums to hammer out “three chords and the truth.” With the popularity of games like Guitar Hero and Rockband things will hopefully get even better but the Sophmore Jakes show why rock and roll is as much an attitude as a type of music. You may come from a small town in the middle of nowhere but rock and roll allows you to live large and smile and that my friends is the essence of what life should be all about.
Check out their MySpace page for a chance to listen for yourself and a list of tour dates as they are released.