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Jun
14

Rose Hill Drive's new album to come out July 12, and it sounds promising

Posted By: David Accomazzo
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UPDATE: Thanks to an alert reader who directed us to Rose Hill Drive's Facebook page, we now know that Americana will be released July 12.

I was maybe two cans into the mystery beer at the Sundown Saloon at Rose Hill Drive's listening party when I finally relaxed. The band's new album, Americana, announced Friday, is good. Really good, perhaps even better than their previous two. It's the first album RHD has produced with bass player Jimmy Stofer in the mix, and though it's still hard to wrap my head around Rose Hill Drive as a two-guitar quartet and not a power trio, I'm happy (and relieved) to tentatively say that, based what I heard at the Downer, the album is a step forward for the band, not a lateral or backwards one.

I was worried. The original trio, guitarist Daniel Sproul, guitarist-singer Jacob Sproul and drummer Nate Barnes, all grew up in Boulder, and for almost two years, Boulder's best homegrown rock band seemed on the verge of collapse. The band, after releasing two albums and seemingly gathering the momentum necessary to launch a serious career, abruptly went on an indefinite hiatus in January 2009. They ended the hiatus in June 2010 with a new member, Stofer, and began writing what will be their next album. An 18-month "hiatus" is rarely something a band comes back from unscathed, especially when the record deal's up and the momentum is waning.

Here's what Jacob Sproul told me last year:

"When we first, first, began as a three-piece, we were writing to sound like music that we listened to, because we loved it, and that was anything from Led Zeppelin to the Foo Fighters to the White Stripes to the Strokes. We were just digging on anything that was old rock, or new rock. What became a problem for us was trying to sound like some of the modern things that we enjoy, because of the styles we were creating … were turning more towards the old classic rock, just because we were a three-piece and it sounded like we could do that. And it was fun to do that, but it became a very stale type of feeling, not only because we began as being super-creative and kind of fell back on trying to sound like something that had been popular before, but we were also looking for more musically, just a wider soundscape."

But now, Rose Hill Drive sounds resilient. Major labels be damned; they created their own and released the album themselves. And it sounds like it could be great. We'll have to wait and see.

I can't say a lot more about the album, except that I really dug the second track, since the speakers at the Downer are better suited to loud bar music than giving an album a serious listen. The band should announce complete details, including a release date, next week. But I'd say the album sounds more modern, less classic-rock. I heard less Grand Funk Railroad and more Jack White, which is no surprise given the fact the the band covered the White Stripes' Elephant last December. There were a few ballads, a couple heavy-riffed rockers. It's an album worth getting excited about. I'll post more information when it becomes available.

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I am so excited for Americana to come out on July 12th! Their Facebook page has a lot of info in the release if you are new to Rose Hill. Epic!

 

http://facebook.com/rosehilldrive

 

 

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Friday night and I’m listening to Rose Hill Drive’s new release “Americana”. Ah, the taste of fresh RHD. I’ve had to call off my other plans for the evening.  The lady was not happy either, but she’ll cheer up once I cue “Speed Dial” on our next outing.

 

RHD’s first two records are probably the rock albums I have listened to most in the last decade. Killers, Arcade Fire, Phoenix, Jet, the multiple Jack White joints, all put out great albums, to name a few, but seems like no matter what I find along the way, I return to the Sproul brothers for their raw, driving rhythms, crafty lyrics, ballsy vocals and bravura guitar.

 

Their second disk, “Moon is the New Earth,” jumped the curb of the electric blues and jamb band cred that they had built their reputation on, burning up broader avenues of musical reference while maintaining the signature drive that makes them one of the most fascinating and daring bands on the rock scene. The key ingredients are Jake’s acerbic vocals, his diamond cut lyrics, and Daniel’s agile fretwork and the rampaging drums of Nathan Barnes.

 

I declare a strong buy recommendation on “Americana” to all my friends. It’s hilarious, both musically and lyrically, full of gags and jokes and dead serious at the same time. The tunes are about the day-to-day grind, the politics of sex, individual freedom and cultural decay. Take one simple line from the title track. “Americana” – “If it’s real I don’t care if it’s plastic.” What arrangement of words could define a culture of consume-and-discard more ironically or succinctly? Daniel’s fretwork, on this barn-burner opening track, is the most off-the-chain of anything recorded to date.

 

Applause to the production team as well.  Quantum leaps took place not only in the music this time, but in the studio.  Everyone is having a good time and It’s infectious. Congratulations to all. The record offers a tip to digital musicians of the future, “analog.”

 

I would caution first time listeners. If you think you have a song on “Americana” pegged in the opening minute, prepare for a surprise, or two. Often as not, the Sproul boys toy with expectations. Their lovingly laid grooves are booby trapped with twists and turns on strange bridges and blazing after burns.

 

Fans familiar with the band when it was a trio, you want to hear what the 4th wheel of the new four-wheel Drive model sounds like?  Check "Telepathic"  This stripped down, low-slung, trance makes use of debut cat, Jimmy Stofer’s cultured seasonings, chipping in low-end jam that sets the eardrums on edge. When Daniel’s solo finally springs from it, the itchy, restless groove glows like a secret, psychic signal suddenly exposed.

 

“Baby Don’t You Know You’re Man – I listened to it a few times. Though it’s played with impressive energy, the song was actually a turn off for me. I don’t know why? It cranks into hyper-drive like good Foo Fighters.  To these rickety old ear bones though, it seems forced, cliché. But, what do I know? Watch it be the one that gets the most play.

 

“Pictures of You” – A four-minute opera of high stakes love jinx.  Morbid two key organ into. Dreary one-string guitar accompaniment. Drum beat drags feet like the trudge of Frankenstein. Now, split it down the middle with a breezy, surfer boy chorus and you’re not going to believe your ears. You will ask yourself, how can this be RHD?  Then sit back and be blown away while they pull it off. Sound whack?  Sorry, but to quote Jake’s beast, “I can not argue with how I feel now.”

 

 “Speed Dial” is my favorite song with a tongue-in-cheek busy signal intro and Jake camping up his voice by screwing it down, actually, until it sounds like we’re tuned to the tiny speaker of a phone. His chick’s on the other end pressing for where she stands. He confesses to the squeeze, “I have nine.”   Fellow music lovers, I assure you, no song by David Byrne or even Bowie was delivered with a more theatrical flair.   Wish I could see your face when you hear it. I can’t wait to see this cut live.

 

Fast forward to my next favorite song on the record “Your Mother’s Jam”. I’ll say it again, what’s most contagious about it is how much fun everybody is having. Just when you think you’re going to settle in to a funky retro-folk/blues confection, the tempo triples. Nate’s cymbals start to shimy and quake.  With a rush, we accelerate onto deluxe RHD jam turf. Jake pays respects to Jagger, Plant, Bowie , Byrne,  in the way his modulations are chosen for maximum comic and dramatic effect. Daniel slams the works home with an impeccably polished blues progression, thick as molasses, stirred with sick flourishes from insane finger tips. This song sneaks up.

 

Eight songs in, “Birds Against the Glass” provides a drop tempo in the playlist. The track features RHD unplugged at a new peak of excellence, accomplishing way more than just giving us a place to rest our ears. The song exhibits their range with elegance and simplicity.  It is the most meaningful, artistic and accomplished of all the quieter tunes RHD has recorded. I look forward to a whole lot more like this from these guys.

 

This brand shiny new, four-piece gizmo is slicker in some respects, trashier in others, and filled with lovely novelty and surprise. I’m going back on what I said before. This final tune is my number one favorite on the album.  “Birthday’s and Breakups” revs along as a power pop lament with a Top 40 chorus. A false ending echoes and rolls to punk climax like muzak from Joey Ramon’s heaven, then magically expands into a rapturous anthem before throwing the switch. Abrupt is not the word. Here. Right here, all that lush production falls off the front porch swing of some solemn folk guitar picking with changes that would normally belong to a different record altogether but, surprise! It’s the same tune. Ha-ha! I thought I had accidentally jumped to something else on my pod library, but the album is called Americana after all.  Before I could figure this out, these wizards managed to cross the bridge and did it so soulfully as to rinse out all kinds of dung and cobwebs from my ears that I didn’t know they were clogged with. You forget how good a good record can be.  Know what I mean? “Americana” is one of those records to me.

 

 
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