No Justice goes back to basics

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Oklahoma’s No Justice plays tonight at Rockin’ Rodeo. “People who come to our shows want music for the people and by the people,” frontman Steve Rice says.

It might sound cliched, but No Justice frontman Steve Rice said the Oklahoma quintet is “getting back to our roots.”

“I think the fans were caught off guard with 2nd Avenue,” Rice said of the band’s 2010 release, which was a chance for the band to experiment with its love of rock. “With this one, they can kind of sit back and enjoy it. This album really represents who we are as a band.”

The band stops in Denton today to promote its latest album, America’s Son, due out Dec. 4. It combines the Southwestern folksiness of Red Dirt music with the kind of country that made Merle Haggard and Hank Williams indelible. Or more to the point: genuine, dance-able music about everyday folks meeting up with life, be it happy or sad.

If America’s Son is a reliable representation of No Justice, Rice said he owes a lot of that to producer Dexter Green, whose name is attached to the likes of Collective Soul. Green walked No Justice through its first studio album in years, which also happened to be its first album on the band’s new label, Carved Records.

“Dexter has a really good knack for bringing the absolute best out of people without changing anybody or changing a band,” Rice said. “He can do all kinds of music, and with this being a country record, he was still able to push all of us without turning us into something else. He’s so much of a rock producer but he’s really a jack-of-all-trades. He’s kind of one of those guys who knows what you’re capable of, and he pushes you to the very edge of those capabilities. He won’t let you slack anywhere.”

The album has a healthy inventory of songs that could stand as singles. “Run Away With Me,” “Life’s Too Short” and “Shot in the Dark” are as anthemic as anything Toby Keith has branded in his heyday, and without being stiff “yay America” songs.

America’s Son isn’t a hat-over-heart ode to patriotic values. It’s a journey through the workaday heartland, where hearts break and love cracks open for the deserving and the reprobate.

“I wanted [this record] to cater more toward the type of crowd that comes to our show, people who wanted to dance,” Rice said. “People who come to our shows want music for the people and by the people. It’s just a really simple record, as opposed to the last record. I put it like this: Our last record was like serving spaghetti in a Chinese restaurant. It’s fine, but it’s not what people came for.”

America’s Son also returns to the signature No Justice sound: vocally driven with big guitar and drums. Rice said it feels good to be back home, musically, and that writing and playing from the gut seems to serve the band well.

“Everyone tries to pigeonhole you as Red Dirt or roots music,” Rice said. “And we’re really just making American music. It’s about everyone and it’s meant to be a genre-non-specific type of music. It’s something that’s meant to be enjoyed and not branded.”

They’re with the band: Steve Rice, lead vocals and guitar; Cody Patton, lead guitar and harmony; Justin Morris, vocals and bass; Bryce Conway, keyboards; and Armando Lopez, drums.

Details: No Justice and Aaron Sandoval play tonight at Rockin’ Rodeo, 1009 Ave. C. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $10. To buy tickets online, visit www.rockinrodeodenton.com.


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