RFA has generated a huge buzz in the Philly region as of late. Made up of college students Alec Powell (drums), Brendan McHale (bass), Christian Turzo, (guitar), and Dan Cousart (vocals/guitar), the four-piece plays old-school rock n’ roll with the reckless abandon the genre requires. Especially in an era where the definition of rock music has become a bit too broad for some, RFA’s distorted, vibrant sound has attracted attention from the average listener as well as major Philly-area radio stations like Radio 104.5 and WXPN. Their latest EP, Something New From RFA, showcases a band that’s beginning to reap the rewards of all their hard work.
Though Something New From RFA is a collection of five fully fledged rock n’ roll tracks, it might have you fooled the upon the first listen. Opening track “Saturday, January 24” is a gentle intro that begins with only vocals and an acoustic guitar. It eventually expands into the full band, but the song’s mellowed out vibe contrasts with the high energy cuts found on the rest of the EP. “Saturday, January 24” continues straight into “I’m Not Telling You”, a breezy track that sounds ready for summer road trips and beach parties. Here, RFA settles into the catchy, effortless style of garage rock that’s become their signature. “What’s Your Name”, a fast-moving track propelled by guitars, calls back to This Is It-era Strokes; think of tracks like “Barely Legal” or “Hard to Explain” for comparison. “Indigo” is an instant standout of true-blue indie rock, drawing similarities to Catfish & The Bottlemen and The Killers‘ early work.
In a nice contrast to Something New’s mellow introduction, RFA save their biggest burst of energy for last with “Swell”, the EP’s closing track. “Swell” seems to pay homage to the Philly basement scene RFA has grown up in, especially with its mosh worthy outro. Fuzzy, loud, and manic, “Swell” has a bright future ahead as a fan favorite, and will surely be a highlight of RFA’s upcoming live shows.
To a first time listener, it might seem that RFA doesn’t bring anything groundbreaking to the table. Girls and parties are some of the most overused lyrical subjects across all music genres, and Something New is made up entirely of songs that touch on those two topics. RFA isn’t exactly revolutionary in terms of their musical style either- countless other acts with a similar sound have come and gone, especially within the last decade. But Something New, and by extension RFA, is special because of the immense potential it shows. For a band made up of full time students, RFA is already putting out music as professional and polished as the well-established acts they’re often compared to. Something New From RFA may not really have much “new”, but give their music the time and attention it deserves and RFA could become something big.
Listen to Something New From RFA below, and be sure to check out RFA’s Bandcamp page for past releases and tour dates!
I happen to be the drummer’s dad… I have watched this band since its formation in 2012 when the Lads were pimply-faced sophomores (at St. Joe’s Prep) sloggin’-it-out to become members of Mr. Schwartz’s vaunted Rock Band. Back in the day Christian was the hot shot drummer, Dan was the guitar prodigy and Alec was the Folk Rock, acoustic playing singer/songwriter. Brendan had his own band in Moorestown, but he was too busy with the Prep (musical & drama) plays (he was ALWAYS the LEAD!) to be involved in Rock Band back in the day.
As RFA took form, Alec moved to drums, Christian over to lead guitar and Dan to rhythm guitar. What’s amazing about this band is that every memder plays a wide range of instruments and they are all proficient in each. The original bass player, Steve McAleer, committed to Boston College, so the band was soon forced to find a new bass player as they headed off to college in Philly – a pact the other three made to each other to continue as a band: Alec @ Temple Honors, Christian @ Penn and Dan @ Drexel. Who would the next bass player be?
Brendan would show up at EVERY RFA show and the band took notice. The problem was that Brendan (also @ Drexel) was also a guitar (specialist) and keyboard player…could he fit? Hell yea! Like the other members of the band, Brendan is super smart and a Winner that was used to working hard (at the Prep) and he fit perfectly with the band! According to Alec’s latest comments to me, “Brendan has become an EXCELLENT bassman!” The band gelled quickly and began a torrid streak of writing songs & playing gigs.
The fact that these guys are only in their second year of college (all full time students with a rigorous course load) and they find the time to become this tight and to play 3-4 gigs a week is a testament to their commitment to each other and to their craft. This is a band to watch! This band renews my faith & love of Rock & Roll every time that I see them! And as each show’s crowd gets bigger, the buzz builds as the band grows ever tighter.