The RocknRoll Hi-Fives have appeared here in the past for good reason. Namely, they are original and filed with outstanding musical wonder. If you want to find the hardest rocking family band in the most real sense of the word, look no further than New Jersey’s RocknRoll Hi-Fives.
Comprised of parents Joe and Gloree Centeno and their progeny Eilee, aged 15, and Evren, aged 13, the RocknRoll Hi-Fives are the most outstanding family rockers to break onto the scene. And while hardly a brand-new act, the Hi-Fives released their third EP titled the Beat the Sound the Dragon’s Roar on Little Dickman Records in late 2016 and released a full LP, Re-Introducing the RocknRoll Hi-Fives, in April of this year.
When it comes to describing the group, it’s no easy task. Father and patriarch, Joe spent much of the mid-to-late ‘90s touring the country in one of the most forward-thinking guitar-based indie rock bands this writer has ever seen. Plug Spark Sanjay was a whirlwind of distortion, volume, passion, and action, and many people placed their bets on their being the next great New Jersey rock band to break onto the national scene. However, as it tends to with all of us, Joe’s growing family had to take the front seat of his life while Plug Spark Sanjay became an afterthought. As Joe and Gloree welcomed their first child into the world, daughter Eilee, they became full-time parents,and Joe became a very part-time rock ‘n’ roller.
However, the gregarious Joe wouldn’t let something like having to worry about raising a family gets in his way of rocking. In fact, whereas many rockers see having children as a reason to give up on their rock ‘n’ roll dreams, Joe saw just the opposite. In his family, Joe saw just the pieces he needed to start his own band.
The band’s grin-inducing moniker dates to before they were even a proper band. When Eilee was only a few years old Joe asked his daughter what they should name their group, should they ever start one. Eilee answered fast and sure, “The RocknRoll Hi-Fives, dad.” From there, it was performing very loosely at school assemblies, local parks and just about wherever the father/daughter duo might be able to set their gear up.
As the kids grew older, the band expanded as Evren began taking drum lessons and Gloree took to learning the bass, thus entirely forming the RocknRoll Hi-Fives. The RocknRoll HI- Fives are honing in on their sound which is fast, snotty, fun, loud and filled with positive energy.
With Eilee singing lead vocals and creating sounds from her Theremin, Evren manning the drums, Gloree holding it down on bass and Joe shredding on lead guitar and backing vocals, the RocknRoll Hi-Fives are more than a gimmick. They’re a great band with great songs and a wild live show.
The RocknRoll Hi-Fives are influenced by a mixed bag of rock n roll, indie rock, noise, punk, and superheroes. Music from the Beatles, Superchunk, Guided by Voices as well as the Ramones, Blondie, Joan Jett and Slade with the awesomeness of Evel Knievel and Spiderman.
The RocknRoll Hi-Fives enjoy sharing their love for music and proving that you’re never too old (or too young) to rock out.
So, let’s take a listen to some of the new songs from the new record and see what the RocknRoll Hi-Fives have for us in 2018.
The first song is “Same Mistakes.” Vocalist Eilee is a bodacious, attitude-filled maven who reminds me of early Debbie Harry. Her brother is a bonafide beat master that can keep up with just about anyone I know who is twice his age and he doesn’t hesitate to put the thunder in the song. Father Joe Centeno rips on guitars and reminds me of Nirvana’s Pat Smear. His rhythm style is on point and supports the song as wife Gloree pounds the bass. When it comes to the compositional style of the song, everything kicks as it should, and under the amicable talents of Eilee, the song points in the right direction. Outstanding verses make way for addictive bridges and choruses tell me that this family band practices what it preaches.
Next up is “Hold On.” Once again Eilee is the focus, and the song is amazing as father Joe tears into the piece with his Pat Smear meets Earl Slick approach and gets backed up by mother Gloree on bass and son Evren on drums. Nothing about the RockNRoll Hi-Fives music is easy going or mundane and “Hold On” is a perfect example of a great song that doesn’t rely on overproduction or pomp and circumstance. Eilee’s vocals are addictive and toned for days. Joe alternates between sharp chords and simple lead lines and syncopated riffs that give Eilee plenty of space to do her lyrical thing.
Moving around the disc a bit I came to a song called “Battles.” The RocknRoll Hi-Fives scorch earth on this song and the entire band is on fire here. Joe holds down the attitude here as Eilee soars above the fray, harmonizing with herself and others, providing some outstanding melodic sass to the overall piece. Evren and Gloree nail this sucker to the proverbial floor as Joe darts from one end to the other, providing a veritable cornucopia of guitar sounds. And when it comes to guitar tome, Joe has it down pat. Everything he does sounds contemporary as well as traditional, and I love his style. I’m not sure if he’s doing some guitar effects in the verses or perhaps that’s actual synth work but its excellent.
Another excellent song is “Glass Towns.” Joe demonstrates skills as he moves from slinky single note bends to complex chord structures as Evren and Gloree back him up. When Eilee chimes in its pure musical ecstasy. Synthesizers help move this fast-paced rocker to its next section, and it’s a winner. Eilee sings like she’s been doing this for twenty years and I find that amazing. I’m not sure how Joe and Gloree started this family band but it’s a fantastic accomplishment, and their kids are talented beyond the norm.
The new disc contains a total of 10 new songs, and I wish I had the space to cover them all, but you can head over to the band’s site to find out more about the RocknRoll Hi-fives and their new recording at rocknrollhifives.com.
This is a band that combines family values with cutting-edge modern music, and I can only hope that they will continue to create and grow within the music scene as we need groups like this. Go check them out!