As probably one of the few people on this planet that does not like Guns And Roses, I always baulk at a band that uses ‘Roses’ in their name. I fear that the influence of the aforementioned band has coloured the music I’m about to listen to. There was no such fear when I received the latest album from The New Roses as this German band has already treated us to three solid rock albums that had an individuality and a sound that managed to satisfy the hard rock requirements and still retain the hooks and choruses that some would define as ‘radio-friendly’. That is particularly true of their new album, Nothing But Wild and Down By The River has already attracted the attention of Planet Rock and significant airplay on a station that sticks rigidly to approved playlists. Details on the inspirations of this fine album can be found in the fascinating interview Liz did with Tommy here on Bluesdoodles.
I am pleased to report that their sound has taken the earlier southern leanings and mixed in a harder edge so that this accomplished set is chock full of melodies and a tangible harmony within the group as well as the songs. Influences such as Aerosmith and (shudder!) Bon Jovi are still there but nearly buried deep enough to enable me to say that this album is pure New Roses.
First track, Soundtrack Of My Life, is hard rock by any definition that struts its way into your head and stays there. The chorus is ready for the audience; the bass is superb especially as it anchors the melody behind Tommy’s on form voice; the guitar solo is fast without widdles and fits in some exceptional phrasing during its short duration. Even more anthemic is Can’t Stop rock And Roll…OK, it is a bit clichéd in the lyrics but the clever structure of the instrumentation and the lighter is ready and willing when the chorus arrives. Down By The River lives up to the attention it garnered as the southern tinged melodies just make you want to sing along; add in a powerful vocal and sparse, simplistic but effective riff and a great solo and it ticks ever box…and if comparisons are made, this blows BJ out of the water. Title track, Nothing But Wild, has a complex riff that works a treat and I, for one, would like to meet the subject of the lyrics! The solo is another clever and original piece even if it deserves much more time and space to expand on some of the phrasing and pick up switching. Heartache is next and if you though this was going to be the obligatory ballad, you’re wrong! It, literally, kicks in with another imaginative riff and neat guitar behind the perfectly pitched and paced vocals; even the simple act of sliding the plectrum down the wire wound strings doesn’t sound anything but right and the solo starting low and gradually climbing is great (too short). Now, to the ballad with a not very ballad title…The Bullet is acoustic countrified rock and builds nicely to an electric/acoustic song of quality. I also like the fact that the guys fit in lots of ‘six-packs’ into their lyrics and it also mentions an overflowing ashtray…I’m there! Make sure your lighter is gassed up as the chorus lights up. Running Out Of Hearts strays into over familiar melodic rock, instead of hard but it’s a love song and so infectious I can forgive that slight transgression and it has lovely and fitting guitar solo that reminded me slightly of Adrian Vandenburg in its style. Unknown Territory is a blast from start to finish and has a great riff and a sort of 70s heavy pop feel that is nostalgic and yet new. As The Crow Flies is another southern inflected hard rock song that, to me, cried out for slide…but then I am weird and, let’s be honest, they are way better qualified that I am. It is a damn good song that has bluesy edge too that makes me think of The Answer in the way it takes disparate influences and makes the whole so good. Give And Take is my favourite at the moment as the darker and heavier bloom on this bluesy slice of rock has a bite behind the ‘whoas’ and chorus…again, The Answer at their peak spring to mind and that is most definitely a good thing. The solo is restrained and picked beautifully over that superb riff as every instrument is audible and contributes so much. The Only Thing is, to me the weakest here, as the ballad structure and tonality brings Springsteen meets BJ to mind and lessens the impact the originality of the rest of the album. In saying that it does have a short solo that nearly rescues it. Meet Me Halfway is acoustic and has an impact despite its less frantic backing and some neat touches on the guitars behind the vocal is you listen closely and the harmony duet of acoustics lifts it above similar songs even if it is woefully short for me. The album proper closes with the majesty that is Glory Road; this is hard, melodic rock that many bands out there regularly fail to achieve. It is crowned by the guitar solo that has some nice touches and is revisited over the ‘whoas’ toward the end. Next come two “unplugged” bonus tracks which are acoustic versions of Down By The River and Fight You Leaving Me…these illustrate the strengths and depth of the compositional skills of the band even if I prefer the electrified versions.
Here we have an album by a band at the peak of their powers…full of memorable anthems all with the trademark strong vocals and instrumentation.
For me it would have been even better if they’d allowed the heaviness the take hold a bit more and put the BJ references permanently to bed…they are better than that and this collection proves that the stadia of the world has a new crowd-pleasing rock band of a quality that very few can match waiting to fill them.
NINEdoodle paws out of TEN …
Soundtrack Of My Life
Can’t Stop Rock ’n’ Roll
Down By The River
Nothing But Wild
Running Out Of Hearts
As The Crow Flies
Give And Take
The Only Thing
Meet Me Halfway
Unplugged versions of Down By The River and Fight You Leaving Me
Timmy Rough – vocals, guitar
Norman Bites – guitar
Hardy – bass
Urban Berz – drums
Soundtrack Of My Life Can’t Stop Rock ’n’ Roll Down By The River Nothing But Wild Heartache The Bullet Running Out Of Hearts Unknown Territory As The Crow Flies Give And Take The Only Thing Meet Me Halfway Glory Road Bonus tracks: Unplugged versions of Down By The River and Fight You Leaving Me Musicians: Timmy Rough – vocals, guitar Norman Bites – guitar Hardy – bass Urban Berz – drums