Ron Gallo: FOREGROUND MUSIC [Album Review]

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Ron Gallo
Kill Rock Stars [2023]

The Fire Note headphone approved

Ron Gallo has been a very well known name on the indie circuit since his solid 2017 record Heavy Meta was released. He has earned a loyal live following and shared the stage with plenty of big names like Spoon, Parquet Courts, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees, Wilco, and J. Mascis to just name a few while playing Coachella, Bonnaroo, Austin City Limits and the list goes on. Even with that impressive resume, Gallo is still under the radar but hopefully with the release of his excellent new fourth album, FOREGROUND MUSIC, he will make his way into more playlists!

The rocking album opener, “Entitled Man” is a perfect spastic kick off as the song rips from the beginning with a big distorted guitar and Gallo’s vocals that are some of his most direct to date as he sounds like a young Jonathan Richman with a Ty Segall backing band. The title track is next, which keeps the energy high with a flowing chorus and upbeat tempo while its inquiring lyrics confront today’s high anxiety environment when he sings “I take my life pills one day at a time, My favorite thing to do is lie awake and panic.” The jumpy dance post-punk that is “At Least I’m Dancing,” keeps the party going as Gallo distracts himself while things burn down around him with the lines “I just keep dancing between; Everything is fucked and meant to be; But at least I am dancing.” The swaying and drifty “Yucca Valley Marshalls” is another highlight on the record which has a very Kevin Morby/Mac DeMarco vibe and serves as a nice oasis in the middle of the edgier rock tracks on FOREGROUND MUSIC.

The real success here is that Ron Gallo moves you through different styles of indie rock while telling it all on a multitude of subjects that includes male entitlement, the age of anxiety, narcissism, the dread of future generations, right wing extremists in giant pickup trucks, and capitalism. That list doesn’t even do the topics justice but combined with the album’s lyrics and Gallo’s bright delivery, FOREGROUND MUSIC has a much greater depth that hits harder with every replay. The record gives balance to its subject matter by being fun and extremely catchy, which not only gives it charm but leaves the listener with a positive thought that maybe things will be ok!

“Entitled Man” / “Yucca Valley Marshalls” / “At Least I’m Dancing”

Mac DeMarco / Jonathan Richman / Car Seat Headrest

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Thomas Wilde

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