The Love Language and Union Pacific

An open letter to Sammy Hagar:

I have an untold amount of issues with your 1981 hit, "There's Only One Way to Rock." First and foremost, if there was only one, I wouldn't look to you for instructions. But I digress. You see, there's plenty of ways to rock, and while you're perfecting recipes for tequila-battered chicken fingers, I will personally enlighten you.

Take Tucson's Union Pacific, for example. Rumor has it they're relocating to the Bay Area sometime soon, so I'd advise you to lend an ear in between Cabo shots, because they could make you feel better about Eddie Van Halen hating your guts. Forget the guitar shredding altogether, this quartet have a cavernous and expansive guitar sound without bothering with distortion pedals and whammy bar jerk-off sessions. They have great songs, sometimes recalling the untainted innocence of Ritchie Valens, or the majestic productions of Phil Spector, but even bigger. Union Pacific has a great rhythm section, with all sorts of interplay that Alex Van Halen or whoever played the drums in Chickenfoot couldn't even imagine of. Last, but most certainly not least, they know how to write a song—quite impressive ones, actually. Let's face it, "There's Only One Way to Rock" is god awful, even by your standards. Take notes.

What about The Love Language, who just put out their third album on Merge Records? They rock in ways I'm sure you never dreamed of! I'm sure you've heard of the Rolling Stones—you know, the band with the big-lipped, trouser-bulging singer? The guy whose aforementioned attributes are the only things you took from his band's music? Well, The Love Language sometimes resemble The Stones' 1967 album Between the Buttons, when they absorbed some psychedelic and Kinks-ian Brit-isms into their funky (look it up in Webster's, Sammy) rock 'n' roll. The Love Language's lead singer Stuart McLamb and his very expressive voice said more in one "yeah" than your 10,000—a low estimate—recorded uses of that word. This group's keyboards and dual guitar madness went from 0 to 55 faster than you and your yellow jumpsuit can leap on a courtroom bench, scaling peaks taller than those in Cabo. When McLamb shredded his voice and proclaimed he "could've died" at their set's climax, you might have, too.

So, yes, there are many ways to rock.


Joshua Levine


More by Joshua Levine


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