Patrolled By Radar – Be Happy (CD review)

Patrolled By Radar – Be Happy (Knitting Factory) CD review –

Imagine the tour buses for Merle Haggard and the Replacements crashing into a drive-in showing of “The Good, Bad & the Ugly” and you kinda get an idea of what this band is all about – twang-infused roots rock, with a hint of western weirdness thrown in for good measure. 

The band has been around for awhile under the name 50 Cent Haircut, but got tired of being confused with the rapper sharing the first two words of their name.  Patrolled By Radar not only is a cooler name – but it abbreviates to PBR – rock!  Be Happy, is the band’s debut under their new moniker, and it’s a great mix of Stones-driven rockers and acoustic numbers.  The disc opens with the vibrating guitar number “Widow Next Door.”  “New Fight Song” starts out as a pounding rocker that descends into a quiet middle, complete with whistling (there’s your weirdness), before returning to rock at the end.  “Pachyderm,” with its slide guitar and squawking sax gives off the same hazy feel of Exile on Main Street.  All the words to the tracks can be found at their website (www.patrolledbyradar.com) and they’re definitely worth checking out – singer Jay Souza paints some pretty wacked images.  Take for instance “Haywire” with the lines “If I chew off my own hands / in an effort to shock you / I couldn’t hold my liquor now.”   The song “Be Happy” repeats the words “I only want you to be happy” over and over – it’s as if saying it so many times will make it actually come true.  The sound of the disc is gritty without being too sloppy, and there’s nothing that really dates it to present day or yesterday.  Be Happy has a classic sound without being retro.  With the great lyrics, spirited playing, and just enough strangeness – Be Happy is a great listen.  – Tony Peters