By Mike O’Cull
Pennsylvania’s Small Town Titans reignite the fire of rock and roll and let it burn brightly on the band’s new album The Ride. Set to drop November 13th, 2020 on AntiFragile Music, the record is one of the best rock releases of our current era and shows us all just how much life is left in the primordial power trio format. Band members Phil Freeman (vocals/bass), Ben Guiles (guitar), and Jonny Ross (drums) are a small, powerful crew that’s figured out the secrets of maximizing the three-piece band experience and have created an incredible album built upon a foundation of guitars, drums, vocals, and top-tier songwriting. The group has found success without any management, label, or radio support by giving fans the real-deal rock music they’re hungry for and putting on live shows that continually blow minds. This simple-sounding approach has paid off handsomely for the Titans and has landed them on bills with Highly Suspect, Papa Roach, Black Stone Cherry, Pop Evil, and other major acts.
Small Town Titans first gained notice in November of 2018 with their viral video cover of the Christmas song “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” The track quickly became a YouTube sensation, climbing several Billboard charts including Holiday Digital Song Sales, Rock Digital Song Sales, Emerging Artists, and rising to #5 on the Next Big Sound chart. The song also reached #2 on the iTunes Rock charts, only being surpassed by Queen’s iconic “Bohemian Rhapsody.” STT ditched the traditional thinking about how bands should release their music and instead modeled the methods used by many prominent YouTube stars. The group creates content for their fans like songs, podcasts, live online concerts, cover videos, and more continuously and has seen this strategy mesh perfectly with today’s social media-driven landscape.
Small Town Titans go hard from the jump on the opening cut “Rufflin’ Feathers.” They hit the song’s big riff with a sense of total commitment that’ll send your speakers flying across the room. Lead singer and bassist Phil Freeman has an astounding voice on the level of Ronnie James Dio and Freddie Mercury and uses it to its full potential here and throughout the record. He’s an honest-to-gosh stadium-worthy rock singer with a huge belt, outstanding expression, and all the grit and tone required to make it to the Hall of Fame. Add in Small Town Titans’ muscular trio grooves and ultra-tight songwriting and it becomes directly obvious that one’s a winner.
“The Man” is another blast of blazing three-man rock built around a Zeppelin/Sabbath-ish chorus riff and a more contemporary syncopated hard rock verse. All three musicians conspire to lay down an epic sound that eclipses the sum of its components by a country kilometer and will pull anyone with a heartbeat into their jam. Their blend of big dog energy, soaring vocals, and swaggering grooves is impossible to ignore and what fun would that be, anyway? Guitarist Ben Guiles brings a lot of heat on this cut and his tone is textbook rock perfection.
Small Town Titans demonstrate that they are no mere one-dimensional bunch of heavies on the affecting power-mellow mid-tempo “9 To 5.” The song is a genuinely touching number that’ll pull at the soul of everyone who works for a living and needs a little relief from the grind. The group has the collective gift of being able to make each word and note matter in a way that’s deeply personal and vulnerable. In these plastic times, it’s practically supernatural. The title song, “The Ride,” is equally emotive and impressive. Be sure to also spin “Let Me Breathe” and “Behind The Moon.” Small Town Titans are one of the finest emerging rock bands in the USA or anywhere else and are ready and willing to make a run at the big time. Every true rock believer out there is going to fall in love with this record.
Small Town Titans Online