Album Review: Love Love – The Rhode Island Eepee

Love Love – The Rhode Island EepeeEP Review of Love Love: The Rhode Island Eepee

Love Love is a fun, talented outfit that’s ideal if you like a healthy dose of twisted, quirky, intelligent, occasionally haunting and slightly demented whimsy with your alt-pop-rock. Their sound and approach are one-of-a-kind, making them a uniquely enjoyable, valuable addition to any local music scene and their recordings a must-have for any music collection.

A few years ago, I reviewed this band’s self-titled 2015 debut. The Rhode Island Eepee arrived in my mailbox in early 2019 toward the end of the period when wasn’t writing much, so I put the envelope in a pile of “important music mail” and rediscovered it two years later when reorganizing my office. Well, it’s just so cool, I have to tell you about it, especially since this is still Love Love’s most recent long-form recording; the band has only released one song since then, a single entitled “OK,” released in February 2020.

Love Love’s primary members are Jefferson Davis Riordan and Chris Toppin, and The Rhode Island Eepee is an ode to Toppin’s native Rhode Island.

“We Can’t Get Enough of the Was” kicks things off with a cheery, poppy ray of jangly pop sunshine. This catchy tune is not exactly a word salad, but you have to listen to realize it isn’t.

“The Garden,” next, has a hint of a Sgt. Pepper-era Beatles vibe, guided by a slightly psychedelic, distorted, buzzy, rock ‘n roll rhythm and Love Love’s trademark uniquely non-combining harmonies. This is probably the most mainstream song on the disc and the one I’d be most likely to drop into multi-artist playlists.

The EP shifts to a more haunting vibe on the next number, “Rhode Island Ghosts,” which carries a similar vibe to the song “Murderpedia” from Love Love’s self-titled debut EP. The content of “Rhode Island Ghosts” isn’t quite as shocking, but it is creepy enough, both lyrically and musically, to stand your hair on end while listening. This song is the only time on this EP during which Love Love grabs something from the scary side of its musical toolbox, but it’s done quite effectively.

“Blind in the Sunshine (Sunlove Mix)” has a serious watching the clouds while lying in a field of daisies, summer of love-styled vibe. No lyrics, but whooshing winds and a soaring, gliding psychedelic guitar sound. As song number four, this is also intermission music at the halfway point of the seven-song EP.

“Joan Anderman,” next, is a cheery ditty about “the night Joan Anderman got me high.” It sounds like it wasn’t a great experience, contrasting the whimsical music and song delivery. It’s worth noting, also, a secondary storyline in which Love Love is not pleased by the prospect of making music for free, and they’re quite graphic in suggesting what you should do if you suggest it.

“Great Day in Rhode Island” continues the upbeat nature of the prior song, telling the tale of Jefferson and Chris meeting. At this pivotal moment in their lives, represented here by spoken-word narration, the song’s thematic lyric shifts from “we all just want someone to love” to “it’s a great day in Rhode Island.” If that ain’t love, I don’t know what is. Indeed, it sounds like a banner day for the Ocean State.

Continuing with the disc’s state(d) theme, the EP closes with “Rhode Island,” a broad-reaching, soaring, floating, beach-styled epic that dispenses facts about the state of Rhode Island and Chris Toppin’s life. One of my favorite lines in the song is “I’m your Roger Williams, baby, and you’re my Providence.” It’s a catchy, soft-rockin’ tune. Very Love Love-styled. A solid conclusion to a unique, must-hear collection, especially – though not exclusively – for those of us with a connection to Little Rhody.

Looking Ahead

There are no upcoming shows currently listed, but when they are, you may be able to find them here on the “Events” tab of Love Love’s Facebook page.

You can also read a bit about the music group founded in 2018 by Jefferson and Chris, WitchWood Music, here.

Album Review: Love Love – Love Love

Love Love

photo courtesy of Love Love

Album Review of Love Love: Love Love

Music journalists love when bands self-title their first albums, mostly because we like to use the word “eponymous.” But I’ll resist because there’s so much more to write about Love Love than its album title choice. Hip, hillbilly-in-a-coalmine Americana. But with a dark side. And a tendency to wail in such a way that you’re both energized and haunted at the same time. And a proclivity toward throwing in some psychedelic, mellow guitar rock just when you think you have the band’s style figured out.

But let’s start with the dark side. This Boston band sure does. I had never even heard of murderpedia until I found myself singing along to this oh-so-catchy, truly demented opening number, “Murderpedia.” Indeed, it sounds as if Chris Toppin and Jefferson Davis Riordan, who, along with bass player Darren Ray, form the core of Love Love, sought out some of the more gruesome entries and wove them into a song. I guarantee you’ll sing along to this catchy, guitar hook-driven knee-slapper… and that you’ll be simultaneously amused and horrified at yourself for doing so. (To be honest, you’ll mostly be singing along with “devil back to hell”; not so horrifying.) Yes, this song is on my phone playlist.

My other favorite Love Love song on this disc is a gravelly-vocalled, psychedelic Americana-folk anthem of unique pride, “I Like You Weird.” This could be a major hit, a movie theme song, the band’s entrée to pop music consciousness. At a minimum, it’s going to be one of your favorite songs on Love Love’s eponymous debut album. (OK, it turns out I couldn’t resist.)

Elsewhere on the album, which totals 14 songs, you’ll have your own favorites, but there are a few I’m particularly drawn to. “Hey Fella”, for example, is a slow-paced, engaging, heavy roots rock behemoth. And “Big Backyard Moon” is a harmonizing, guitar picking, energetic, hillbilly-esque ditty.

“Bailing” extends the Opry-like flavor all the way to Hee Haw territory; lyrically modern with a hint of rock guitar where you’d perhaps expect banjo on a truly old-school country song, but it frequently sports a classic country harmony. Structurally, if you appreciate a well-crafted song, this is a work of art. And it’s followed by singer-songwriter-esque melodic alt-rock “Maryland,” just to keep listeners on their toes.

“Wide Open Skies” is a medium-tempo, ’60s/’70s-flavored travelling song that just screams “Roll the windows down!” to which you will certainly reply, if you live here in New England, “No, not in the winter,” but you’ll still want to.

In the end, Love Love is a style of roots rock/Americana all its own. A pure old sound with a new bent and a propensity to throw in styles you didn’t expect, sometimes in large quantities so they take over a particular song, while always maintaining an underlying Love Love sound. A perfect example comes late in the album. “Love Myself” is one of those “do I have the turntable on the right speed?” mellow, psychedelic tunes that feels as if you’re drifting through the clouds in a black lit room full of lava lamps. It’s followed by “Lost Battle,” a fun, pickin’-and-grinnin’ knee-slapper. And the album ends to the tune of a capella, creaky hillbilly harmony on “Bright Morning Stars.”

Love Love is a unique entity. Boston-based, bizarre Americana.