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Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders: Reviews

Publication Reviews

As frontman for the ferocious Lazy Cowgirls for over two decades, Pat Todd was a SoCal garage/punk godfather. In 2005, however, he sent the Cowgirls to the great saloon in the sky in order to get a fresh start. As you can take the boy outta the garage but you can't always take the garage outta the boy, traces of the Cowgirls' high-velocity vibe remain in the Rankoutsiders' sound. But this sprawling two-disc set—Todd's Exile on Main Street or Blonde on Blonde, privately issued last year and now seeing national release—also showcases his twangier, acoustic side. Mandolin-flavored strummers ("It Was a Stupid Dream Anyway") and bottleneck bummers (the Ronnie Lane-like "Kendall County Blues") share space with barnburning, Jason & the Scorchers-meet-New York Dolls raveups. The common denominator, of course, being Todd's expressive voice, part foghorn blare and part elegant croon, as he charts a litany of hope and heartache—and no small measure of bottom-of-the-bottle bravado.
In 2004, the Lazy Cowgirls, long one of the best-kept secrets in American rock & roll, finally called it quits after nearly 25 years of inspiring music, but lead singer and principal songwriter Pat Todd clearly isn't ready to throw in the towel just yet. Todd has formed a new band, the Rankoutsiders, who follow a similar path to the latter-era Cowgirls -- fast and loud old-school punk on one hand, and hard but heartfelt honky tonk on the other. However, unlike the Lazy Cowgirls, the Rankoutsiders can handle the quieter country material with the same sure hand as the louder, frantic rock stuff, and Todd's first album with the band, The Outskirts of Your Heart, is his most impressive melding to date of his two great (musical) loves. The Outskirts of Your Heart is an ambitious two-disc set, with the first CD primarily devoted to raw, four-on-the-floor rock and the second featuring Todd's acoustic-oriented music, but there's plenty of crosstalk between the two -- "I Wonder Why" has enough swagger to fuel a major city even without drums, and "November 11th" generates a high, lonesome mood despite the Marshall amps. This album features Todd's strongest lineup of musicians since the Ragged Soul-era Cowgirls -- guitarists Nick Alexander and Tony Hannaford, bassist Rick Johnson, and drummer Bob Deagle are tight, grooving, and emphatic regardless of volume -- but the star of this show is Pat Todd, and he's in stellar form here. Lots of rockers talk about passion and commitment, but for Todd those aren't words, they're as necessary to life as water and oxygen, and he has no fear in letting the deepest and most painful secrets of love, life, and survival take the center stage in his songs. Todd can sing with roughhouse fury or smoky sweetness depending on the song, but there isn't a moment on any of these 28 songs where he puts less than a hundred percent of his soul on plastic, and he's rarely had as powerful and diverse a vehicle for his music as he's given himself on The Outskirts of Your Heart. This is a superior work from an estimable and underappreciated talent, and if you love rock & roll that comes from the heart, the soul, and the gut, you owe it to yourself to hear this album.
Mark Deming - All Music Guide
“Here’s the antidote for those who think you have to be young to rock. Pat Todd, not a young thing, takes simple Rock ’n’ Roll and makes it smarter and more complex…”
Teresa Gubbins - Dallas Morning News (2006)
Pat Todd & Rank Outsiders = Social Distortion + Supersuckers + Bruce Springstein
Pure rock n’ roll has found its voice in Pat Todd. Once the leader of the L.A based Lazy Cowgirls, Todd plays rock n’ roll that can’t be denied. The high energy gives you the hint of punk, but there is so much more here that you can’t pigeon hole this band. This 2-disc 27 track monster ranges from blues to bluegrass influences. Songs like “November 11th” are sincere and pull you in for more. Flares of Chuck Berry guitars, and R&B break downs drive this record down a lonely country highway. It is tough to digest so much music at once, but “Thought I Saw My Future in a Grey Dress” stands out the moment you hear it. Pat Todd isn’t trying to reinvent rock n rock he’s just trying to resuscitate it.
The Outskirts of Your Heart shows two distinct sides to the former vocalist of underground L.A. icons Lazy Cowgirls. The first disc of this double record blasts down doors with a floor-stomping delivery that matches the pace of Pat Todd’s revered former band. Songs like “Just Another Stupid Guy” and “November 11th” have the kind of turbocharged tunefulness that made the Lazy Cowgirls a significant influence on the likes of Nine Pound Hammer, the Supersuckers and numerous others. The Outskirts of Your Heart’s second disc, meanwhile, leans toward roots rock and country music, with heartfelt ballads conveying a more low-key approach. Todd capably croons songs that show a wider range than his typical full-tilt style, with banjo and mandolin added in to the musical mix. The Outskirts of Your Heart’s variety shows the versatility of a man who’s long been admired for his dedication and talents.
Pat Todd called the other night, we got to talking, and I think he referred to The Outskirts Of Your Heart as a "new beginning." I knew The Rankoutsiders was the name he'd selected when he decided to put the Lazy Cowgirls moniker, the brand name he's been using since his formative days in Indiana, out to pasture. But when the new double-CD arrived in the mail, it sounded to me like another terrific double-scoop of hard-nosed, soft-at-the-center rock 'n' roll from a guy who's always known that the Ramones and Hank Williams and the Rolling Stones aren't really all that far apart. I didn't quite get the "new beginning" thing. But that's because Pat placed most of the familiar-sounding stuff at the front, maybe to lure the old customers back into the building. The more I dug into this record, the more I could see he was right. It is a new beginning and a real scattershot, covering most of the stuff he loves.

"Alive As Yesterday" has that ass-kicking, hi-octane take on Chuck Berry that the Lazy Cowgirls cut their teeth on. For some reason "November 11th" makes me think of those tunes X did on More Fun In The New World. And "No Place Like Home" is a perfect take on the sledgehammer, hair-in-the face, headbanger riffs Status Quo once came up with. Status Quo, by the way, should get credit for being a big inspiration to the Ramones, right down to the hairstyles. "Your Heart, Your Soul & Your Ass" could be a full-ashtray/empty whiskey bottle 4:00 a.m. blooze from the Stones, circa Beggars Banquet. "2 Year Ride" feels like a Hunter Thompson bad dream: You're sprawled on top of a muscle car going over 100 mph on the 405 (and if it's going that fast on the 405, it'd have to be in a dream). "Is My Last Chance Gone" lifts its opening riff from "Sheena Is A Punk Rocker," and who'd believe Pat and the boys could transform Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" into something as scary as "All Night Rain/Restless Times"? Then again, "Hell's Half Acre" could be Larry Williams' "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" turned on its head. Are you getting the idea this is one eclectic motherhumper of a record? Wait until you slip in the second disc.

I knew when I shipped Pat a box full of those classic, Capitol-era Buck Owens CDs that Sundazed (the company I work for) had just released, it was only a matter of time before the crop came in. "Thought I Saw My Future In A Little Gray Dress" would be perfect for a Rankoutsiders/Steve Earle collaboration, a pretty damn good idea in itself. "It Was A Stupid Dream Anyway," on the other hand, might fill the same role if Pat ever sings a duet with Juana Molina (who would look good in a little gray dress). "Now That The Sinnin' Is Over" would have been the least suicidal tune the original Carter Family ever cut. "My Next Time On The Highway," with its rampant finger-picking Bluegrass vibe, is what Bill Monroe might sound like if he were still around today. Pat's cool, Woody Guthrie talk-singing, "Go On, It Don't Mean Nothin' Anymore" is what the Rankoutsiders should have been playing in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, waiting for the cops to bash their heads in while they're cooking a squirrel over an open fire down in Hooverville. And "Christmas Day" is just the TV Dinner/7-11 bummer you'd want to follow up Elvis' "Blue Christmas."

I once wrote that Pat Todd was one of the five best frontmen in rock 'n' roll (and I've seen most of 'em). I've witnessed the Lazy Cowgirls in dives all over the greater San Francisco bay area, and I've seen the Rankoutsiders, come up with exactly the same results. Without smoke (or mirrors), Pat can ignite a dingy little nightclub faster than those numbskulls who set off the outdoor fireworks inside that Rhode Island club a few years back (with better results for the patrons). I've seen a lot more so-called hotshots since I wrote that, and maybe it's time to disqualify those four other guys! Pat's the one."
Jud Cost - Magnet Magazine (Mar 7, 2007)
Pat Todd used to lead the justifiably legendary Lazy Cowgirls, the Indiana-to-L.A. punk rock band that mixed American roots music with the Ramones and the Clash better than, well, anybody. After a couple of decades, the Cowgirls split up right after releasing their greatest album (2003's I'm Goin' Out and Get Hurt Tonight); Todd decided to keep on keepin' on with the same sound and a new band called the Rankoutsiders. He stockpiled a lot of material in the intervening years, all of which finds a home on the The Outskirts of Your Heart. Twenty-seven new songs spread over two disks seems like a lot for your average listener to take. But Todd and the Rankoutsiders make it easy, simply by virtue of their talent. An engaging and heartfelt singer and songwriter, Todd's creative consistency is amazing—he mines anger, sadness, disgust, loneliness, disappointment and defiance better than just about anybody working right now. And the Rankoutsiders—part Chuck Berry, part Hank Williams, part Rolling Stones, part Johnny Thunders—are the perfect vehicle to bring his visions to life, rocking like raging fury one minute and swaying like an Indian summer breeze the next. The group shifts gears between acoustic roots rock ("Kendall County Blues," "Now That the Sinnin' is Over," "It Was a Stupid Dream Anyway") and rollicking cowpunk ("You Can Yearn Right On," "Is My Last Chance Gone," "Just Another Stupid Guy") so smoothly there's not an iota of cognitive dissonance, and there's not a bad cut on either disk. Not only is The Outskirts of Your Heart one of the best rock & roll records this year, but it's one of the greatest of the decade.
Michael Toland - High Bias (Mar 7, 2007)
“Take Chuck Berry’s ‘Great 28’, “Blood On The Tracks’, Exie On Mainstreet’, ‘Rocket To Russia’, and the Lazy Cowgirls’ ‘I’m Goin’ Out To Get Hurt Tonight’, grind them up together in a blender and you’ll have the spirit of Pat Todd & The Rankoutsiders.”
John Rosengrant - SWS Gazette (2006)
“Let’s face it, almost all garage and punk bands suck now days! Sure they’ve got image, attitude, they’re noisy and aggressive, but you could say the same for half the high school students in America! You go and see one of these bands that “everyone’ is talking about, for all the wrong reasons of course, and when the show is over you’ll be lucky to remember two songs they played! The Rankoutsiders play songs (full of love and true Rock ’n’ Roll energy) that you can actually sing along with the first time you hear them! Go see for yourself!”
Brian Stone - Something Real Magazine (Jul 15, 2007)
I will hopefully have an English translation of this up soon, but I am told it is a very positive review...
L-P ANDERSON - Sonic (Feb 16, 2007)