By Wally Perez
Artist: The Reputations
Album: Electric Power
Release Date: Nov. 9, 2018
Rock and roll isn’t dead, and The Reputations are proof of that. The Austin local’s debut album, Electric Power, released Nov. 2018, showcases powerful vocals provided by frontwoman Rockyanne Bullwinkel and catchy guitar riffs that bleed from the heart and soul of rock music. From head bangers and rump shakers, to more personal songs that would have you swaying side to side holding up a lighter, the band’s debut is an all-around hit.
Labeled as “power soul” and “rock and roll glam” on the group’s Facebook page, the band is made up of members Bullwinkel, Justin Smith on bass and vocals, Rudy Spender and Erich Frausto on guitar, and Jimmy Wildcat on drums. As far as instrumentation goes, it’s nothing too flashy and pretty simplistic for the most part. It’s late ‘60s and early ‘70s rock and roll, but with influences of rockabilly and pop sprinkled throughout.
What makes Electric Power special is the bands utilization of various vocal contributors. It’s not just Bullwinkel taking the reins here; Smith takes the helm on some songs, and former vocalist Jenny Carson provides backup vocals on most tracks. This equates to well executed vocal harmonies between the three, especially when layered together perfectly to create a full, rich sound.
Take the album’s opener, “Tightrope,” for example. It immediately sets the pace and tone for what’s to come. A catchy guitar lick accompanied by the rest of the band sets up the ferocious entrance of Bullwinkel as she makes her presence known with her weapon of choice—her voice. Bullwinkel, joined by Carson. howls along with the escalating band before you’re knocked back down with the aforementioned groove. It’s reminiscent of the intro to Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.”
The next two tracks, “The Exciter” and the title cut “Electric Power,” keep the energy going with just as much soul and gusto that “Tightrope” introduced. It’s obvious the band pours their spandex covered hearts into their music as hints of rock pop creep through on these songs and the lyrics are so catchy you can’t help but sing along (in your head or out loud). This is especially present on the bridge to “Electric Power,” where Bullwinkel and fellow vocalists merge to hit you with a barrage of layered verses, each with different emphasis shouting, “You got me running out/You got me running low,” before it ends with the chorus, “With your electric power, lightning flashing from your eyes.”
It isn’t until the fourth track that the tempo slows down and you’re able to take a breath with “Shake Me Baby,” a slow-paced, orchestrated track that incorporates strings to liven an already powerful chorus. Smith and Bullwinkel combine for a delicate and heartbreaking chorus, “Shake me baby, shake me outta this dream.” The final track “Laredo” shifts the tone of the rest of the album as the band pays homage to the Southwest, both lyrically and stylistically. It’s somewhat daring for the band to try a variety of different styles as the album goes on, and not all of them are hits, but when the band sticks to their roots, it’s hard to criticize them because it’s done so well.
It’s a breath of fresh, smoke-machine-filled air and the music is delivered dressed in face paint and feathered hair. It’s an album filled with tracks that exude, well, electric power. From frantic guitar riffs, heavy bass grooves and powerful drum fills, The Reputations definitely wear their inspirations on their sleeves. Bullwinkel says it best: “If the spirit don’t move you, I hope that rock and roll will.”