The history of The 71's is not well documented, and a tireless Google search, set to their appropriately soul-seeking music, leaves many questions unanswered. Two previous EPs, The 71's and Want You Know, seem to feature none of the lineup present on latest LP We Are Locomotive save guitarist Ryan Cecil.
So I assume, like the born-again Christian lifestyle The 71's so enthusiastically sing about, whatever troubles that once plagued them have been washed away. Though the band is quick to compare itself to Jet (bleh) and Foo Fighters, Rocks Off hears more Better Than Ezra in the band's sheer energy and approach.
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The overall image brought to mind by We Are Locomotive is a rocket shedding boosters and fuel tanks - not necessarily accelerating, but maintaining the speed necessary to reach escape velocity. And though the band fails to expand of the basic lyrical premises of Christian rock, staying safely between the lines of escaping the prison of material existence and entering the loving chains of the Lord, the undeniable quality of the recording is more than reason enough to own the record.
The rock and roll is expertly tracked and mastered, and may be one of the best-sounding albums to come out of Houston this year. Clear as a saint's conscience, Locomotive is well produced without being over-produced. Its songs are enthusiastic, happening and hopping with a non-stop rock-block of ten pop-rocks from the God box. All half-assed rhyming aside though, it's more than worth your $9.99. - Jef With One F
With Evangeline and Thriving Ivory, 7 p.m. tonight at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel, 713-225-5483. $11.