rdgldgrn’s debut ep: dave grohl & pharrell williams are just the icing on the cake. yeah, it’s that good. #soundcheck

March 1, 2013

I’m reminded of the Van Halen paradox from Bill and Ted. You need Eddie Van Halen to play guitar to have a hit record. But you need a hit record to get Van Halen to play guitar. But for RDGLDGRN having Dave Grohl play drums on their debut EP is less a hit-making move than it is the icing on the cake. Grohl’s strength as a drummer has always been his ability to play virtuosic beats but still lay back and let someone else take the spotlight, be it Kurt Cobain, David Bowie, Josh Homme, Jack Black, or the enigmatic vocalists of RDGLDGRN.

The real strength of the EP is the writing, which jumps between hip-hop, indie, go-go, and even a dash of skate punk seamlessly. The band’s effortless hooks belie a hidden depth to the lyrics. Basically, this is some tight shit. Lead single “I Love Lamp” (which is sadly not an ode to Brick from Anchorman, but no-one’s perfect) is a surprisingly upbeat tale of heartbreak and cheating. If you were distracted by the eminently danceable melody, you’d almost miss the pain in the lyrics.

N.E.R.D. and Neptunes legend Pharell Williams adds his stamp of approval co-writing and guesting on the track “Doing the Most.” And it says something that his contributions to the EP don’t feel like Pharell stealing the show for one track. He’s got worthy collaborators in RDGLDGRN, and his sound blends into theirs seamlessly. So the band has some heavyweight collaborators (including one of my favorite producers Kevin Augunas), but these guys would be great without Grohl or Williams. It’s rare that a band’s first EP would be strong enough that they always sound like they’re in the same league as their rock royalty guest stars. All too often bands bring in heavyweight guests to elevate their material. But when having two of music’s biggest names guest on your EP is the least exciting thing about it, you know you’re doing something right.

– Words by Nathan Leigh