I was once lucky enough to catch Rose Hill Drive playing live. It was October 2006, and they were third on the bill to Roadstar (now Heaven's Basement) and The Answer. All three were touring recent debut albums, but to be honest I was only really there to see Roadstar and The Answer, as I had previously never come across Rose Hill Drive.
Given my familiarity with both of the headliners' albums, and the blistering live sets performed by each of them, my post-gig impression of Rose Hill Drive soon faded. Sure, they'd put on a great show - their sound being more akin to that of fellow 70s revivalists The Answer than it was to Roadstar's version of 80s party rock, but whilst I fully intended to check out their eponymous debut, I just never got round to it.
Fast-forward a couple of years, and the Glitzine postie arrives with 'Moon is the New Earth'. Not a CD I would have expected from a purveyor of 'Glitter, Punk, Pop', but an interesting proposition nonetheless. Kicking myself that I'd almost completely forgotten about this Colorado-based trio, I slipped this, their second album, into my CD player, truly not knowing what to expect.
What I didn't expect, but got by the shed-load, was damn near the best album I've heard all year! It's a good thing Airbourne are coming back to the UK in November to remind me just how totally fucking awesome they are too, as we could seriously be talking album of the year material here! I'm not talking 'Glam', 'Sleaze', 'Rawk', 'Punk' or any of the other sub-genres that have come and gone over the years. This is ROCK! Pure and simple, and up there with the best of 'em.
Standout tracks from this fantastic CD include opener 'Sneak Out' - with its interesting vocal style; heavier rockers like 'Alter Junkie' and 'I'm On To You'; mellower numbers such as 'Laughing In The Streets' and 'Better Way'; and the Americana-flavoured (slightly sleazy) 'One Night Stand', although, to be fair, there isn't a single track here that's below par, and it's the subtle changes from one style to another that keeps this album interesting and fresh, despite the fact that I've listened to it almost exclusively since its arrival.
In producing the record themselves, Rose Hill Drive have captured their sound simply and to perfection. Their influences can be heard without having to dig too deep, but the occasional Hendrix guitar-lick or Zeppelin drum-fill does nothing to detract from the fact that this is a totally valid and exciting band with their own distinctive sound. Jacob Sproul, on bass and vocals, is at the forefront of this sound and, whilst he doesn't possess the richest voice in rock, the control he has over his vocal chords elevates him towards greatness, and rarely have I heard the bass guitar contribute so much towards a band's sound. Don't go thinking this is some funk / rock crossover outfit though, this is simply a bass player taking a lead role in the band, alongside the guitars, drums and vocals, and very little else besides.
Jacob's guitarist brother Daniel, and drummer Nate "The Foot" Barnes are by no means overshadowed though, and this is a rare example of all three band members contributing equally to the overall sound. In this case the whole being far greater than the sum of the parts.
It would be all too easy to label Rose Hill Drive as 'Classic Rock'. Certainly, they are heavily influenced by the more traditional rock acts of the 70's, but to my mind the term 'Classic' is not a sound, or a style; it is to be used in recognition of an act's heritage and contribution to the genre over a period of time. Given the strength of this CD however, and the exposure gained through the high-profile support slots the band has played to-date (Black Crowes, Queens of the Stone Age, The Who and Aerosmith) Rose Hill Drive are well on their way to becoming a bona-fide classic.
Watch this space, and catch them in a shitty little club near you while you still can.
Visit the Rose Hill Drive Website