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Homespun: Red Letter Days 

Sounds Like a Plan EP


Make no mistake about Red Letter Days' intentions: The young three-piece wants to be all over your radio. This five-song EP has the sheen and sparkle of modern radio rock so imprinted on its DNA that the band's stated influences (Paramore, All-American Rejects) appear as an inspiration and a target. According to its press materials, the band has a manager, a booking agent and even decamped to California to record Sounds Like a Plan. So just know upfront that this isn't a band content to simply dip its toe in the mainstream — this is a plunge. The trio is centered on Katie McKenna's vocals, which can dip down low enough to grab some Pat Benatar-esque huskiness. Katie's brother Willy McKenna helms the drum kit, and Alex Bolano plays guitar with enough bravado to pull off a passable finger-tapped solo on opening cut "Beautiful Eyes." But brief discursions aside, these songs are built around hooks and big, bouncy choruses.

The songs themselves are tuneful and confident, though they tend to bleed into one another across these five tracks. Similar tempos and major-key riffs only allow for so much distinction. "Always" adds some nuance with a little piano boogie, but it sounds as if the band has a hard time making the center hold. Something similar happens a few times on the EP; too much weight is placed on the vocals, but phrasing kills some of the momentum. "Exodus" closes out the disc with the strongest track — Katie McKenna bares some teeth and shows some grit on this little kiss-off, and the guitar has a suitable edge to it as well. So it's a tossup whether this band of twentysomethings will be invading your radio soon enough, but the pieces are in place for the members of Red Letter Days to keep honing their craft and tinkering with the strictures of modern rock.

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February 24, 2021

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