New Jersey’s The Love Robots Release “Father McKenna”

New Jersey’s The Love Robots first formed in 2019 from the long moribund ashes of The Stereo Police. The band coalesced around the former outfit’s prime movers – rhythm guitarist and vocalist Charley Ruegger and lead guitarist Jon Vick. They’ve picked up working in a band again as The Love Robots with two superb bandmates who complement their talents. Bass player Will Donaway and drummer Ross Medine round out the lineup and provide The Love Robots with a pocket heavy rhythm section that forms the foundation of everything they do. It definitely gives their new single “Father McKenna” the needed building blocks for Ruegger and Vick to work their magic.

It’s easy to spot the cloth from which “Father McKenna” is cut. This is dyed in the wool alternative rock, albeit with a distinctly individual slant that many of The Love Robots’ peers lack. Ruegger and Vick pair up for an impressive one-two guitar punch without ever figuratively stepping on each other’s toes. Their guitar sound is assertive and never overwhelms the listener. This isn’t overwrought or histrionic guitar work. Ruegger and Vick, instead, show the results of their long experience playing together by weaving a hard rocking tapestry certain to engage listeners.

Ruegger’s vocals aren’t your standard rock fare. He has an everyman voice strong enough to carry the tune despite the song’s limited vocal range. His phrasing matches the song’s musical physicality well. This is a singer who doesn’t embrace half measure when performing the band’s original material but, instead, throws the full weight of his lung power behind each line. He explores emotional tones as well that help bring “Father McKenna” even more to life.

The aforementioned excellence of the band’s rhythm section grabs their share of the spotlight. Medine’s drums are tuned to rattle listeners from the outset and his thunderous backbeat gives “Father McKenna” a powerful pulse. He never overplays, however, and syncs up well with Donaway’s bass to give this track the bottom end it deserves. It would be a far less powerful listening experience without it.

The Love Robots deserve kudos for keeping things short and sweet. The track runs less than three minutes total and such a brief duration frees the song of anything smacking of self-indulgence. It’s an indirect nod to one of their key influences, punk rock, without the track ever sliding into mindless thrashing. Anyone looking for lengthy guitar or instrumental breaks should go elsewhere.

Everything about the band’s two leaders, Ruegger and Vick, suggests these skilled musicians are true “lifers”. The Love Robots, as a whole, are clearly a band geared for playing live and their love for rock music, and whatever label you want to assign to them burns bright during every passage. “Father McKenna” is a true one of a kind song, no one else is penning lyrics like this, and they dispatch the tune with a go for broke intensity that many listeners will enjoy. You can feel confident that they will keep these high standards for as long as they play. 

Nicole Killian

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Nicole loves to go cross country skiing, swimming, reading and critiquing books, listening and critiquing music, some culinary arts, pottery, spending time with my daughter, cheesy horror films.

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