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The Pear Ratz
©2010 Independently released
Review by Lucky Boyd

I often advise artists to make a decision on what type of band they want to become.  Some settle on being a rock band, a country band, or perhaps a swing band or a red dirt band.  I warn them that it’s dangerous to venture too far from a central point because you can quickly dilute your fan base.  One of the wonderful things about Texas music and the fans who love it, is that mixing it up a bit never hurts as long as you don’t create multiple personalities for yourself and as long as you keep a central core of sound that your fans can easily recognize.  Either my advice made its way to The Pear Ratz, or there’s some other genius out there giving the same advice.  This band has created a distinctive sound for itself that blasts through the music regardless of the particular genre being performed.  Their central sound is solid and consistent, masterfully captured and heightened by Billy Jo High’s production value. (High is the 2009 TMA Producer of the Year) Another common characteristic of too many releases these days is the propensity for an artist to say, “Hey, here’s a dozen songs I wrote.  Whaddya think?”  The Pear Ratz have the savvy to seek out good songs that will sound good on their record, regardless of who wrote them.  Let’s explore this a little more.  Bob Strause might be considered the lead songwriter for the project, for his name appears a few times and he penned two of the tracks all by his lonesome.  You’ll find a Jarrod Birmingham tune (2005 TMA Entertainer of the Year) and a Birmingham co-write.  There are a handful of covers on the disc and then there’s “The Whiskey” for which the Ratz admit they can’t locate the songwriter.  (Note:  I couldn’t find out who wrote this song either.)  There’s even a Dave Loggins cover on the album.  The Pear Ratz sought out the best baker’s dozen that would show off the band and they let Billy Jo High work his magic.  Of course, it isn’t just luck or good advice at work here, this band has been on the Texas music scene for more than half a decade, gaining fans in every town, working on putting out only the best recordings, and preparing themselves to be the next big thing in Texas music.  As of this writing, Texas radio and the charts have taken to The Pear Ratz like a favorite aunt who always pinches your cheek.  Their rise has not been meteoric, but rather steady, solid, and enduring.  These are the attributes of a big time act in the making.  The vocal work is Texan and true.  High’s familiar LP scratches are back on “Devil On My Shoulder” and he has lent his talents in his true multi-instrumental form.  It may be difficult for the band’s tour performances to truly emulate High in a ‘play it like the record’ setting, but nonetheless, The Pear Ratz will produce an amazing live show.  My first knowledge of the band was several years ago and it was easy to see they had something.  It’s nice to know they have something great and it is evident they’re keeping it all in one place.  For those of you who need a Ratz explanation, they have their “act” together. (the word ‘act’ inserted for de-emphasis) There are a large number of bands in Texas.  Maybe one or two have the 100 things it takes to be stars.  Another dozen or so have 90 of the 100 things.  This band sits squarely on about 95 of the 100 things that have to fall in place all at once to propel them to stardom.  Few ever reach 96 or 97, but if having the smarts to team up with Birmingham and High to create one of the year’s best albums is any indication, this band’s numbers will rise quickly.