Cool Your Jets by Patrolled By Radar
By Gerry Gomez
It’s probably appropriate to call Patrolled By Radar, a Los Angeles institution of the finest roots rock-n-roll brand. Having been a fixture in LA for over the past decade (previously 50 Cent Haircut), PBR is set to release a new full length album on April 1, entitled Cool Your Jets.
With hundreds of shows under their belts and many miles on the odometer, Patrolled By Radar are not content being one of LA’s hardest working bar bands. Founding members, Jay Souza and Bosco Sheff are determined to leave their mark on the Los Angeles roots music scene by steadily recording their brash, booze tinged rock & soul. The ten songs on the Peter Curry produced full length release finds the band accelerating through gritty, hook soaked choruses delivered by Souza and melodic scrappy sparkles of brilliance on guitar delivered by Sheff.
Patrolled By Radar carry themselves with the youthful swagger of a street boxer and lovable loser ethos of Jake LaMotta or the Our Gang ruffians. There’s a “been around the block” realism about the band that comes from years of the type of work one usually associates with dock workers or grave diggers. This hard working, living-life-as-it-comes ethos lends itself to Patrol By Radar’s greatness: they are real straight shooters.
Cool Your Jets delivers a batch of truly great songs with “Lost Cause,” Hate Talkin’,” “Grain of Sand,” and “El Norte” rising to the top – each one one of the more uptempo rockers on the disc. Conversely, “Died with Money,” and “Fool” take the slower, down tempo route and give a glimpse into the state of mind of the tragically poetic songwriter Souza. “Don’t you know a fool when you see one? Bound to love and leap before I looked,” sings Souza to a somehow upbeat melody.
Souza often places himself as the antihero in his songs but also has a knack for being a lovable mutt. Bandmates Preston Mann on Hammond organ and drummer Ben Johnson help create a sonic palate that’s familiar to the Americana world through a soulful, Dylan, Jayhawks meets a Kninks and Brit Pop urgency.
But it’s the gems of the album that take center stage and really highlight the craft of songwriting of the Souza and Sheff team. “Lost Cause” careens of the rails with the sonic guitar line that feels like a jet fighter in flight and comes around to the almost militant hooky chorus, “Anybody can sing, hallelujah!”
Of equal gravitas is the moving set closer, “El Norte.” How a Boston transplant knows the struggle of a young Mexican immigrant must require lots of empathy but Souza nails the emotion on the head of a young man whose mama has told him that she used to fill in at the donkey show, so he’s “half a jackass.” The bittersweet tune brings to light a common heard scenario, whereupon Mama, asks her hijo to, “Send us money from the U.S.A. Take your broken heart to El Norte.”
“I miss you Mama. You told me I should go,” is the heart wrenching chorus to the song. Perhaps seeded in reality from Souza’s own experiences? Souza shows in “El Norte” just how great a writer he is that he can transport himself into his characters emotions.
For those who enjoy the lighter side of Patrolled By Radar, maybe those who remember their song a few years back, “Be Happy,” there’s a similar moment on Cool Your Jets in “Hate Talkin’.”
“You’ve never had an original thought in your whole life and you’re a low life.”
Ouch! Few writers can put one down and do it with a smile and charm. Though “Hate Talkin'” is overtly obvious, it’s sung with a smile. Just check out the video that Turnstyled Junkpiled previewed several months ago here.
All the years together make Patrolled By Radar one of Los Angeles’ musical jewels that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Souza as a writer is one who is well along the way of mastering his craft. Cool Your Jets is a mighty fine release and comes TJ recommended.