Keepin Chaos at BayKeeping Chaos at Bay – Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders (Hound Gawd)

Let’s level up: We’re on a Pat Todd and The Rankoutsiders jag at the I-94 Bar and it’s a jones that can only be satisfied by more of the L.A. band’s trademark Heartbreakers punk ‘n’  Stonesy roots Rock Action.

This is their third killer long-player in as many years – their second in six months! - and the prospect of a tour of Australia later this year just increases the high-rotation.

So if “Keepin' Chaos At Bay” confirms the purple patch that is “Sons of The City Ditch” (2013) and “…There’s Pretty Things In Palookaville” (2021) - the keen-eyed will note there’s an EP and some seven-inchers sandwiched in there, too - and you’re one of the uninitiated, well you’re entitled to ask, Why?

Just because you’re prolific, doesn’t mean you’re any good. Far from it. In the end, it has to be about the quality of the songs, and how they’re played. These Rankoutsiders are the consummate bar band, - meaning they’re soulful, as sharp as shit, they rock without a wasted note. And Pat Todd is a passionate and gifted teller of tales from the streets.

As has been discussed here before, some people regard “bar band” as a put-down. These people probably stay at home a lot and only go to live music that’s a carefully choreographed, “event” in a stadium or (worse) on the green at a sprawling winery. The Jumbotron is their god, craft beers and/or fine wine their nectar, and dog forbid that anybody plays a bum note.

Stadium shows have their place but there’s nothing as authentic (and shared) as a rock and roll band playing in a club or pub. These days, bar band members will never be financially comfortable from their on-stage efforts alone, but they’re rich in a way that only they, their peers and punters will know.

Call The Rankoutsiders a bar band by all means. Just don’t try it on as an insult.

The songs are lyrical explorations of relationships, places, greed and lust. There’s even an autobiographical one (“Why I Sing”) that’ll sit you on your arse or get you dancing (you choose). There are melodies, hooks and tuneful licks to burn.

They’re mostly rockers, rooted in the sounds of some of rock and roll’s revered, traditional forefathers, but rendered with intensity, energy and punk’s jutting lower lip.

Communion’s over so onto the review: You get 14 songs on the LP but don’t expect a track-by-track dissertation. It’s pointless if you’ve never heard the music and superfluous if you’re already a fan. This being the digital age, you can sample them on Bandcamp or stream before you buy. Or watch them live.

The re-worked “Another Stupid Guy” is the record’s stylistic pause for breath. Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders played this in amped-up form on the “Outskirts Of Your Heart” album, and Pat reprised it solo on his recent Australian tour. This version is measured but no less intense, proving the third time's a charm. The lyrical bite remains intact.

“Tower of Song” is the left-field cover (it’s a tuneful but no less take on a Leonard Cohen song) and  Hank Williams (who’s name-checked) would surely dig it.

At the heart of the Rankoutsiders is the pumping rhythm section of Steven Vigh and drummer Walt Phelan. They have swing and power. Guitarist and occasional vocalist Kevin Keller and his six-string mate Nick Alexander are a partnership for the ages,

Alexander was a founding member and Keller has been there almost as long. Keller adds some lap steel and a lead vocal on “You’re Gonna Lose it All”.

The singer may be physically diminutive but Pat Todd’s commanding vocal and presence towers over the songs like Cahuenga Peak peering over the Hollywood Hills, Long may he and the Rankoutsiders rule over Palookaville.


Buy it