The second album (or EP in this case) in my “Reviews that I should have gotten to a while ago” series is Narc Out The Reds “…Are On The Run” EP. Released last year on the Good Time Gang label, the lineup featured here is Chris Baratono (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ben Southwell (guitar, backing vocals), John Miller (drums, backing vocals) and Terry Pearson (bass). Also featured are “Men Behind the Curtain” is Isaac VanderSchuur (guitars, backing vocals), Dave Brunger (bass, slide guitar) and Scott Bozack (drums).

Having seen this band live (and recorded a live set by them) as well as continually listened to this EP for the past few days or so, a few conclusions come to mind. First, this band rocks. Hard. Second, the rocking is done in such a way that not only do their monster riffs shine but everything else (vocals, drums, etc) shines equally as bright.

Baratono’s guitar riffs are steady, catchy and pull the songs along just as well as the rest of the band. I do enjoy the little interludes between verses in “…As Hipsters Do” (the band seems to have a thing for ellipses). They add a little diversity and keep you on your toes. I also love the vocal here. At points, I could swear Muse singer Matt Bellamy took over Baratono’s vocal cords. Clocking in at a little over three minutes, it’s something not too far removed from radio-ready rock and roll like Foo Fighters.

“One Dolor Embrace” is my favorite track on this whole offering. It’s rocking riffs and great breakdowns are so chillingly good. Baratono sings “I’ve got a plan/I’ve got a way/I’ve got a plan/You should’ve stayed” as the drums beat away frantically and the guitars squeal. I also love the sneaking bits of acoustic guitars and synth. They add texture and a light-heartedness to it. Around the 1:48 mark in the song, is my favorite moment of the whole record. It just kicks the song in the ass and makes you rock out. Epic.

Acoustic guitars tiptoeing in and out of the rock and roll wreckage seems to happen a lot here. “I Was Evil That Year” is no exception. The synths are more prominent. Baratano can really sing, belting out “I won’t tell if you don’t” with a swagger and seductiveness (given the first verse includes him “taking her home”) that is just great. Again, the chorus is big and heavy. The production here is outstanding. Around the 3:20 mark, the drums are thrust into lo-fi mode and space is emphasized, which seems to indicate (at least to me) a post-punk influence where space is utilized as much as any instrument.

“Trebledust” is a fun song. Danceable and catchy. The backbeat of the drums gets me moving. “The reason I can’t stop/has got nothing to do with love” is crooned out via the backing vocal. Definitely a KISS influence there. At points the guitars have a Tom Morello-esque quirky punch to them. At others points, the Pixies come to mind. The instruments have room to breathe and at exactly three minutes, nothing is wasted.

“Last Shard Of Drama” feels a little like the previous song. The guitars, again, have a Tom Morello-esque quirk to them. Synth is also a good component. It is not directly obvious but it adds depth where some of the previous parts might seem a little stale. I like the passionate harmonies and vocal here, but not necessarily the lyrics. I feel like they were written by a trite, drama obsessed teenager. “I picked you up at eleven-thirty/I got us some drugs and we went to a party again”, Baratono sings.

This is EP is a great way to be introduced to Narc Out The Reds. If you like rocking, heavy riffs with the vocal stamina and bravato of bands like Muse, check this out.