In the late ’60s and early ’70s, jam bands were all the rage. But now, in an era where song durations hinge on short attention spans or knowledge that shorter tunes simply hit bigger streaming numbers faster, jam bands are actually pretty polarizing. Even more recent innovators like Mars Volta or Godspeed You! Black Emperor have struggled to stay accessible because of lengthy runtimes. We’re so far removed from the long-form improvisation that jazz and rock normalized half a century back, that when a contemporary group can keep on jamming and pack it in on wax, they’ve got a serious leg up.
Take for instance Central Colorado quintet The Runaway Grooms. Sure, TRG’s 2020 debut Tied to the Sun simmers down with a 13-minute epic, but “Tales of Ernest” is really an outlier of their studio output. Instead The Runaway Grooms prove the power of brevity when laying down tracks. In doing so, The Runaway Grooms are able to evoke classic jam acts like The Allman Brothers or The Grateful Dead without sinking into the long song gimmick (looking at you, Phish). That ability to relegate the extended stuff to concerts is no doubt informed by seven national tours, but you don’t need to check their list of stops to experience This Road.
Tomorrow, on the heels of a statewide CO tour, The Runaway Grooms release their third album, This Road. This Road winds over eclectic retro blends in the ilk of Steely Dan and Yes across five originals. And with no genre stoplights in earshot, The Runaway Grooms navigate This Road by opening up the throttle, hitting hard left turns, and at times, coming to an abrupt stop, all while charting a cohesive musical pilgrimage. So if This Road is already giving you wanderlust jitters, rip into the record early with a single that that sounds like Jethro Tull and War had a funky-prog love child in the year between Aqualung and The World Is a Ghetto: “Mister Ford”.