I've been an obsessed hard rock & heavy metal fan and collector since the early 1980s. If it's got a good guitar riff and attitude, I'm in.
Rich Kid Express: "Psychodelic"
Genre: Retro Hard Rock/Power Pop
Label: Squib Kick Records
The global COVID-19 pandemic hit the music industry hard (like everything else) in 2020. Countless bands and artists, both large and small, suddenly found themselves sidelined for months on end. New album releases were delayed, promotional activities were scaled back, and almost all live performances and concert tours were canceled or postponed till 2021 (at the very earliest).
However, there was one potential positive for the music biz amongst all the Corona-fueled gloom and doom: while musicians were sheltered in place, they had plenty of time on their hands to create fresh material. As a result, 2021 turned out to be a banner year for new music releases!
The above theory is strictly my own, but it's already beginning to bear fruit, as evidenced by the arrival of Rich Kid Express' album Psychodelic, which landed on my desk less than six months after I reviewed their debut EP, Bubble Gum Radio, on this very site. Obviously, Rich Kid Express used its lockdown time wisely!
Rich Kid Express (Expre$$), aka Rob Richardson
If you missed my review of Bubble Gum Radio, you might be surprised to learn that Rich Kid Express (occasionally stylized as "Expre$$") is a one-man show. The "band's" lone member is Rob Richardson, a songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and vocalist who has made it his mission to bring back the sounds of vintage '70s and '80s-style hard rock. Like the preceding Bubble Gum Radio, the ten tracks of Psychodelic hearken back to a time when rock 'n' roll radio was fun! Drawing on influences from the glam-rock and bubblegum giants of the '70s like T-Rex and Slade, as well as the '80s melodic rock/hair metal genre, Psychodelic is a refreshingly bright, catchy, breezy listen.
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"Get Outta My Life" kicks off the album in fine early KISS style. This anthem has a fuzzed-out guitar sound that does Ace Frehley proud, and Richardson's vocals have a touch of Peter Criss' grit. "Cross the Line" is total T-Rex worship through and through, right down to the shuffling drum backbeat and the anthemic chorus, while "Do It Your Way" has a slight Cheap Trick vibe.
"Psychodelic" is straight-up '80s arena rock (love the synth accents!), and "Sleep When I'm Dead" is a solid melodic rocker with touches of new-wave and maybe even a hint of pop-punk with its jangly guitars.
The moody, lumbering "Clock Strikes Four" heavies things up and quickly became one of my favorite tracks on Psychodelic—it's about as Metal as Rich Kid Express gets, and it leads into another album highlight, the T-Rex/Slade worship of "Kaleidoscope Caravan," whose lyrics are a trip down memory lane for those who survived the '70s.
"Pink Eye" is a crunchy, bluesy rocker that reminds me of long-running hair metal merchants Kix, and then it's back into Marc Bolan territory for the stirring closing anthem "R.K.R." (which stands for "rich kid rocks").
In short: if you dug Bubble Gum Radio, or you're a fan of '70s/'80s rock in general, Psychodelic should be right up your street. This album has been spending a lot of quality time in my player over these past few weeks, and it's bound to stay there for a while more. Richardson has single-handedly concocted another impressive collection of quality tracks; now that he's got a decent catalog of R.K.E. songs in his pocket, all he needs to do is assemble an actual "band" so he can take the Express out on the road when this Coronavirus crap is over! How 'bout it, Rob?
Psychodelic was released in late October 2020 via Richardson's own Squib Kick Records label. If you like what you hear in the YouTube sampler posted above, you can find out more about Rich Kid Express at their Bandcamp page, where you will also find the Bubble Gum Radio EP and digital "Yummy, Yummy, Yummy" single. Further info can be found at the official Squib Kick Records Facebook page.
The Rich Kid does indeed rock!
"Psychodelic" Album Preview
© 2020 Keith Abt