"Chad Rex And The Victorstands" sounds like the title to a comic book (sorry, graphic novel... nerd) that centers around King Chad, a character similar to the Norse god Thor, as he and his band of loyal knights (The Victorstands) defend the citizens of their abundantly fertile land from a variety of dangers, including, but not limited to, a) barbarians, b) dragons, c) mysterious beings from across the sea, or d) treasonous internal conflict amongst the King's most trusted and devoted friends. Fortunately (since the plot line of that comic sounds horrendous), Chad Rex And The Victorstands are actually a Kansas City, Missouri-based band that love classic country/folk fueled rock & roll music in the vein of Husker Du, Bob Dylan & The Band and The Replacements.
Twenty-eight year old frontman and namesake Chad Rex sings with a tortured guttural moan that could most accurately be described as coming from a talented young singer who spent every waking moment of his life listening to every song Paul Westerberg ever wrote on a constant, never-ending loop. Rex And The Victorstands' sophomore album, Gravity Works Fire Burns, is filled with tracks that make it very easy to believe the band's bio when it says, "Mention Chad Rex And The Victorstands at the right bar in Kansas City and you will almost always get a raised glass proclaiming their greatness."
Songs like "That Way Girl," "Mile Marker Town," "Better Off," and "Lonely Again," like just about every song on this album, are songs for every man. They are songs for hard working, blue collar, middle America and all the heartbreak, loneliness, hangovers and hard times that come with it. These hangovers aren't a result of late night Sparks binges at loft parties for the beautiful people. This heartbreak doesn't come from coke-fueled blowouts between a Lower East Side scenster king and his party girl girlfriend of the week. No, these are real songs about real people. No pretenses. No bullshit. And there's something very refreshing about that.
Maybe it was the 2+ years that I lived in Mufreesboro, TN, or summers spent at my cousin's farm in Southern Illinois, but there's something endearing and unique about life in rural America and music that is able to capture that will always have unfettered access to a special place in my heart.
If you're a fan of Whiskeytown, Wilco, Jason Collett, Ryan Adams, Jesse Malin, The Boss, The Jayhawks, The Replacements and/or Paul Westerberg's solo material, Chad Rex And The Victorstands will be an instant favorite. The guy even put a song called "Song For Paul Westerberg To Sing" on the album... I know, I thought I was lame at first too. But trust me, it's not.