CD Reviews 06 Oct 2015

Family Business Balls Pricey CD CoverTHE FAMILY BUSINESS – Balls Pricey

(2015 Self-Release)

The Family Business will celebrate the release of Balls Pricey October 17th at the Harmony Bar.

You can sample and purchase the Family Business music here

Check out the awesome trailer for the album:


Despite the fact that Balls Pricey is their fourth release in as many years, that they have now been together ten years, and that the group has accumulated numerous Madison Area Music Association Awards, the Family Business remain relatively obscure.  It’s a shame because this group plays some of the most kick-ass rock-and-roll this side of Rockford. They manage the tricky task of sounding equivalently fresh and retro and with four albums, they have quite a catalog of original music.

The Family Business is a band where there is an undeniable summation of parts. The band lists their hometown as Madison but Monroe is where the heart of this band began beating. Drummer Derrick Hendrickson is the son of killer guitarist Gary Hendrickson and Garret Wartweiler is son of bassist John Wartweiler. Those elders once had a nifty little band out of Monroe called the Crashers, which also featured Georgia Satellites drummer Mauro Magellan. Intense influences and it seems these have rubbed off. In fact, the band’s name is a reference to the musicality inherent in their tribes.

Singer and guitarist Alex White is a powerhouse, a natural blues-rock singer with enough bite to convince any rock-is-dead skeptic. The twin attack along with lead guitarist Eric Ziegler is outrageously good. Rock and blues meld effortlessly and Ziegler’s solos are increasingly impressive. Wartenweiler and Hendrickson make for a formidable rhythm section. The music is steeped in the blues but rocks as hard as anything you’ve heard. There is no posturing with this band, they just plain deliver.

A fierce individuality inhabits the Family Business and they seem a bit adverse to the latter word in their moniker. Little wonder as they have likely been pressured to adapt to an attention-deficit music industry. It’s clear that there is little room for compromise when it comes to their music. The band states as much in manifesto form on “The Music,” hilariously using a spoken quote from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles before declaring “It’s never been about makin’ money / We don’t need a sold-out club / Can’t seem to find the words / but it’s music that we love / We don’t need to ask permission / We don’t need to change our tune / Don’t care about competition / Don’t rue nothin’ to lose” over a blues-rock riff that recalls classic UFO or even MC5. They say that to play the blues you have to live the blues. There was a time when that same tome applied to rock music. The Family Business clearly lives both.

“Blue,” channels the Allman Brothers with a cool, double guitar figure and a heavy, trippy middle section that perfectly points the way back to main theme.

If fiery guitar solos are your thing, this is for you because Balls Pricey is chock full of inventive playing. Check out “The Big Red Button,” built on a swampy blues riff and completely indicative of the band’s power. Ziegler’s solo here is masterful. He plays a mean slide guitar as well. “The Wolf” practically defines heartland rock-and roll with another blistering solo.

What makes the Family Business different from the influences it so proudly brandishes is the conciseness of the compositions. None of the albums thirteen songs hit the five-minute mark. They strip away all the excess of classic rock, polish it up – but not too much – and then unleash it to audiences that may not have heard such raw power in some time.

I’m waiting for the right time / To make my move,” White sings on “Make My Move.” Let’s hope that’s true and that the group is simply biding their time. Music this good deserves a wider audience and the Family Business need to find a clear route through the quagmire that works for them.

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About the author

Rick Tvedt

Rick is publisher of Local Sounds Magazine, formerly Rick's Cafe, Wisconsin's Regional Music Newspaper. He is also the Executive Director for MAMA, Inc., a non-profit organization that produces the Madison Area Music Awards and raises funds to promote youth music programs.

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