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Rock and Roll Party

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Album Review

The Virginia Coalition are perhaps the quintessential college rock band of the late '90s/early '00s. While not necessarily innovative or "alternative," as their peers from a decade earlier would've been, the Virginia Coalition instead focus more on creating eclectic, fun, genre-busting party records. That means that the band has peers in groups like Dispatch, Guster, or the Push Stars — bands that make music that's smart, catchy, and cleanly produced but plays away from the radio. The instrumentation leans slightly more toward organic; rather than relying on synths or beatboxes, this is straight-up classic rock & roll — but the production is appealingly bright, modern, and commercial. It's true that plenty of bands have taken this approach to the mainstream — Vertical Horizon, John Mayer, and yes, even the Barenaked Ladies succeeded at it, while many others (Everything, for example) failed. But Rock & Roll Party succeeds, in part, by playing it close to the vest: While the Virginia Coalition shift tempos from power pop like "By & By" to singer/songwriter pop to bar band rock & roll (the title track), they don't radically shift genres or get overburdened with excessive instrumentation. That's part of the reason why Rock & Roll Party is a fine collegiate pop record: It's smart and catchy with just enough of an adventurous spirit to carry it along.


Formed: 1990 in Alexandria, VA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The four members of the rock band Virginia Coalition — singer Andrew Poliakoff, multi-instrumentalists Paul Ottinger and Jarrett Nicolay, and drummer John Patrick — met in junior high school in Alexandria, VA, in music class. In the spring of 1998, they started a local buzz by self-releasing their debut album, The Colors of the Sound. Townburg followed in 2000, helping Virginia Coalition (affectionately termed VACO by their fans) to expand their following to the East Coast and the Midwest,...
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Rock and Roll Party, Virginia Coalition
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