'Stay On The Ride'
Release Date: 15th January 2014
Gary 'Rockulus' Clarke
With the neighbours out to the shops, I quickly sprung in to action and pressed play on my computer.
I wasn't watching some dodgy porn, I was actually pressing play on some soulful and raw Rock music courtesy of the fabulous 68-75. After releasing two EP's they had finally positioned themselves to tackle a full length debut album.
For this approach alone I give these guys the utmost respect as they work from the grass roots upwards, and we hope ever further. An independent band in the current climate of the music business is no unique thing, but it sure isn't something to be complacent about either!
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'Stay On The Ride' is loaded with nine examples of Rockin' fruit, each carrying its weight in juice. As the Atlanta-based quartet explain on their official Facebook profile about this new debut album; "...speaks to universal struggles, losers luck and those rare moments of personal deliverance."
It's believable when exposed to that soulful croon from lead vocalist Suzanne Sledge. It's easy to imagine her pulling poses and throwing shapes to these tracks in the live environment as even during instrumental moments like on 'Camel's Back' where she cries "Oh yeah!" and so forth; she's feeling the music. That's what this band is about. No pretension or elaborate forced expression, just primitive and unadulterated raw Rock music fused with some light touches of funk and a whole lot of blues.
This album has some cool riffs which bounce along with a groove that salutes the era that their name comes from. Check out the opening thunderbolt from the blue called 'Kicking Down The Stalls' which doesn't hang around long. After experiencing that Atlanta stomp, Sledge clears her voice for a split second before 'Deal With The Devil' gets to stretch its 'Black Crowes style muscles.
It makes you think that these are exciting times for music in general. The Temperance Movement, Rival Sons, Scorpion Child and Orchid are all bands that carry the flag for the old guard and the principles that make real emotive music so beautiful.
'Detroit' feels like it is mourning as it lumbers with a moody vibe providing a change of gear to the album. Then with almost a provocative attitude, a real album highlight in the shape of 'It's Only Tuesday' bounces in to view with feathers that are bright and grappling with the positive.
The guitar department within 68-75 is controlled with emotion by Andrew Cylar who takes the Rolling Stones, The Black Crowes and Free, squeezing them together and creating a comfortable and familiar exhibition.
The production values for 'Stay On The Ride' sound like they come from the low budget corner of recordings which for this style of music is ideal. You hear the music breathe and shake, lick and promise, whilst stumbling with fragility and tenderness.
Another album highlight caresses my ears as a prominent organ accompanies 'NSC' under the soft neon of an obscure and dusty Atlanta street. The stutterin' guitar at the beginning of the title track makes tears well up. Understated and full of flavour, 'Send My Body Home' reaches out through the darkness wanting to be embraced by angels that fly to the sound of bluesy and soulful music. Listen out for some subtle harmonica during the latter half of this song.
One day I really wish to travel to the U.S. and witness this band live; but I digress. 'Dogtooth' rounds off what has been a short and sweet listening experience. It's an album that is so easy to play on repeat, and that for me is a sign that it's a good album.
Low on cheese and absent of sleaze, this is a true reflection of four individuals playing and creating music they love. You couldn't really put this chemistry down as rocket science or anything that it isn't.
When I had the pleasure of talking to Phil Campbell, lead vocalist with The Temperance Movement, he basically said that they play music they love, there was no hidden agenda. I think I've stumbled across the Atlanta-based equivalent.
Kicking Down The Stalls
Deal With The Devil
It's Only Tuesday
Stay On The Ride
Send My Body Home