From the first note of “Love Song,” the first single off “2nd Avenue,” you’re left with no doubt that No Justice is ready to rock, despite the song title.
This album is the epitome of the Red Dirt and Texas music scene so popular in this area. It includes a mix of country and blues story-telling with a Southern rock flare.
Most of the songs on “2nd Avenue” are written by lead singer and guitarist Steve Rice and will ring true with listeners who can put themselves in each and every song.
Jerry Payne and lead guitarist Cody Patton play mean licks, Joey Trevino does more than act as steady bass, and Armando Lopez kicks butt on drums.
Those who like sweet and sappy won’t find it in “Love Song.” Chances are country music fans will have heard this single, as it’s been getting some airplay recently.
Rice belts out the catchy lyrics about trying to get your first love to give you another try, just to see if the love is as true as you remember it feeling.
One more dance
A second chance to ease my mind
Girl, it won’t take long
A little romance
It won’t take long
Take my hand
A little romance
How bout a little love song?
The title cut from the album “2nd Justice’ starts out like a soft melodic ballad, almost spiritual:
I been searchin’ for answers
And I been running on faith
I been thinkin’ it over
But you soon figure out, that’s not the case at all.
“2nd Justice” is about perseverance, constantly fighting to hold a relationship together, only to realize how futile the effort is when the other person is fighting just as hard to leave.
About 30 seconds in, No Justice kicks its trademark rocking country sound into gear for an upbeat chorus sung so fast you feel the urgency of racing, wishing for a more familiar time and place with that special someone.
I’ve looked through the street in the rain,
Every seat on the train for your face
In the windows above all the places we love,
Not a trace.
Take me back to 2nd Avenue.
Take me back to the places we knew.
Take me to you
And the song apparently struck a chord with listeners, rising to number 2 on the Texas Music Chart, where it has remained for 28 weeks.
It’s also featured on Guitar Hero and is slated to be featured on “Hunting for the Dream” on Sportsman’s Channel next year.
“Goin Nowhere” is country with an underlying foot-stomping beat that you’ll find hard to listen to sitting down.
This cut has a great dance beat. It’s about enjoying youth, living in the moment and having a blast. Some of the best times are had not while on the path to some great journey or destination in life, but just letting go and taking it as it comes.
This is a fun song, I can see kids playing it as they zip up and down the highways and backroads on hot Southern nights. Adults, too, will enjoy the nostalgic look back at youth it offers.
“Heart On A Chain” is a little slower, sounding a bit sadder, not as upbeat as the rest of the songs on the album.
Rice has said he was inspired to write this one after his buddy presented a heart pendant on a chain to his girl, giving her his heart to hold while he’s out serving his country in the Army.
It’s a pledge of love and dedication of a man to return home to claim his woman and her heart. In cut-by-cut album notes, Rice reports not only did his friend return home, Rice got to play the song for them just before his pal dropped to one knee to propose.
The opening lick of “WWIII” is all rock, the riff almonst siren-like in intensity — think of the first few bars of “Poison” off Alice Cooper’s “Trash” album — yet underscored with a bluesy wail.
“WWIII” was written by George Devore as he watched servicemen get in line, readying to head off to Bosnia.
According to the cut-by-cut notes, seeing the troops in that setting made him realize that he could be seeing the front line of what could very well become World War III, and all he could think of was being with his loved one. “WWIII” is Devore’s ode to those soldiers.
Don’t expect to sit still through “WWIII” either. Its strong beat threads through even the hardest of listeners as it imparts a more serious message — the quiet feeling just before things explode in tense times, the moon mocking you from across the world, a troubled destination ahead and the struggle a soldier goes through preparing himself to serve while having to say goodbye to those at home.
Just enough time to pray for our souls
Everywhere we go, all the people lookin’.
The world has come apart at the seams.
It’s the end of the world and the only thing I want
Is you sitting here with me
I’m high and dry and so alive.
It’s pretty damn easy to see
Sodom and Gomora is crashing to the ground
And you should be here with me.
I’m standing on the edge of World War III
True country songs require a few elements: they have to be about lovin’, leavin’, cryin’ or gettin’ even.
If you can throw in momma and a dog, you’ve hit ‘em all. “Gone Ain’t Far Enough” takes it down a notch. This definitely has some lovin’ and leavin’ and maybe even a little cryin’. It reminds us that when it comes to a broken heart, no matter how far we run, it “ain’t far enough” to escape the pain.
The guy takes his woman at her word to “spend some time apart,” crossing 2,000 miles and seven state lines. No matter how far he runs he can’t escape the hurt.
Baby, I thought you’d set me free
But you’re still here with me.
Night after night,
No matter how far I’ve gone
Gone ain’t far enough.
“Gone Ain’t Far Enough” compares the daily struggle to get past the pain to fighting the “very air I breath.”
“Just Get Going,” the second single off the album, is also very country. It takes you through those tough days, sometimes weeks, where both people in a relationship are hanging in there even though they know it’s over.
“Just Get Going” is about those painful times just before one or the other leaves. It encourages the girl to “just get going.” This track is currently climbing the Texas Music Chart, going from 49 last week to 37 this week.
“5 More Minutes” is about being afraid to take a chance in a relationship until it’s almost too late, then gambling everything, leaving it all to take a chance on love. For all of us who have seen or experienced the perils of love and the fallout, this song is a reminder that when it’s right, everything else will be, too.
Sometimes, you just have to take a gamble and risk it all. You’ll always wonder if you don’t take the chance, and pine for what could have been.
In 5 more minutes I’m leaving on a plane,
Running from this place I came to hide.
In 5 more minutes I’m leaving on a plane,
Leaving everything i know behind.
In 5 more minutes I’m coming home to stay for good
I hope I’m not too late.
We both agree,
I know that I was just a lost soul.
A life of sin came crashing down ’round me
“Coming Up the River” has a very upbeat bluesy sound — yes, the two can go together.
I dare you to try listening to “Coming Up the River” and not clap along with it, or at the very least have some toe tapping going on. The last addition to the album, Johnny Cooper, Dex Green and Derek Hoke knew what they were doing when they suggested this one. This has the feel of those golden oldies of early rock, with a little bit of blues thrown in.
“Broken Heart Tattoo” has a heavy beat overlaid by country that should get your boots moving. With a bit of whiskey in his voice, Rice sings at a fast pace about the fun of first love, and the many good times to come.
I’m still spinning and I’m still loving you ...
The flame on the candle burning at both ends
This is a fun song that should leave ya winded from dancing with your honey as well as a smile on your face.
While certainly not their first album, “2nd Avenue” is a good place to start if you’re not familiar with No Justice.
Produced by Dex Green, the album is the band’s first studio effort in several years and their first under the Carved Records label.
Their previous album was a full CD recorded “Live at Billy Bob’s” in 2007. The band also recorded a self-titled album and another called “Far From Everything.”
No Justice is also featured on “When They Come Back... We Give Back,” a compilation CD released Sept. 14 by Dallas-based Carved Records in remembrance of the 9th anniversary of 9/11.
The album includes 16 artists who have donated their time and efforts to The Boot Campaign, which benefits service personnel returning from overseas.
Started by five Texas women to support non-profit foundations that assist U.S. military veterans, they encourage people to support the troops by buying a pair of the featured combat boots and wearing them to show that support.
So far, The Boot Campaign has raised more than $125,000 for returning soldiers. Funds go to the USO and the Lone Survivor Foundation, who in turn will use the money to take care of veterans with the most pressing needs.
No Justice joins musicians such as Gretchen Wilson, Joe Nichols, Heidi Newfield and Ted Nugent, as well as the Detroit Red Wings, Houston Astros, Dallas Cowboys and Miss America Pageant, in posing for the poster campaign
“When They Come Back ...” celebrates the triumphs of the American military and acknowledges the struggles they face as they return to civilian life.
No Justice recorded “Red Dress” from their first studio album for “When They Come Back...”
The album includes: “If We Ever Make It Home,” Wade Bowen; “Down In Flames,” Stoney LaRue; “Long Way Home,” Cross Canadian Ragweed; “Home,” Eli Young Band; “When They Come Back,” Derek Sholl; “God For Saken Town,” Reckless Kelly; “Thanks for the Freedom/Fighting,” Aaron Watson; “That’s a Man,” Jack Ingram; “Down and Out,” Randy Rogers Band, “GTMO Blues,” Cory Morrow; “100% Texan,” Kevin Fowler; “Naive,” Micky and the Motorcars; “Black and White,” Bleu Edmondson; “Time in Hell,” Jason Boland & The Stragglers; and “I’m Coming Home,” Robert Earl Keen.
No Justice generally plays about 200 shows a year, including numerous Texas roadhouses. Local residents have the opportunity to enjoy No Justice this Saturday night at the Drunken Mule in Commerce.
If the band’s live performances are as good as “2nd Avenue” and “When They Come Back ...,” you won’t want to miss this opportunity to see No Justice live Oct. 30.
Here's a clip of No Justice doing "Horseshoe Lake" from Billy Bob's.
Both “2nd Avenue” and “When they Come Back” can be purchased at Hastings, Wal-Mart, Best Buy and online
at amazon.com and goHastings.com.
The Drunken Mule is located at 1205 Main St., Commerce.
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