DELINQUENTS WITH HOT RODS - The Ride Ons (Reign Records)
There are so many great songs on this debut album from Newcastle/Sydney band The Ride Ons that it's hard to pin a tail on their influences. I first heard The Ride Ons via the first of their two EPs, "The First Cut", and it stamped them as an band with rustic Aussie early '70s influences and worth keeping an ear on. Suffice to say there's still a solid streak of country-blues running down the belly of this rock beast that brings to mind Carson, Harem Scarem, The Dingoes and early Steve Miller (when he was a San Franciscan blues guy and not an AOR schlockmeister.) But they don't let things rest there.

The Ride Ons are nothing if not well-pedigreed with guitarist Ben Nightingale playing with The Clouds, Sleepy Jackson and Don Walker and drummer Murray Shepherd a founding Screaming Tribesmen, former Harpoon, Lime Spiders and Mother Jones member and current Hitman. Matty Stokes (The Chevrons) handles most lead vocalising as well as some guitar and the band's added bassist Mick King from rootsy Novacastrians The Blues Bombers for live duties.

But it's where you are and not where you've been that counts, and where The Ride-Ons belong is on your sound system if you're into gritty, hook-laden guitar songs. Stokes' vox are fulsome and perfectly-matched to the material and the guitars have that thick, rocky tone - like ready mix concrete after you've added the water.

With a bona fide should-be-a-hit in the honey-sweet but chunky twang of "Little By Little", an anthemic slide-rocker in "Guitar Man" and a whimsical mid-tempo pop gem in "Joanne", "Delinquents" is the brash girl from the bush with the heart of gold in a suburban singles bar over-run mutton dressed as lamb.

While "I Say Yeah" may not be the first song to name-check "budgies and thongs" (a quintessentially Australian term for a particularly sartorial swimwear and footwear combo) it might just well be the best. "High Emergency" is a snappy boogie rocker while the Shepherd-sung "Swamp" is a swirling dervish of poly-rhythms and growling guitars.

Muscle-flexing opener "Why Don't You Show Me" shows how dynamics work when applied intelligently and the addition of harmonica and organ to "Space Man" add a chilled flavour that'll make this a favourite summer driving tune.

"Delinquents…" is unashamedly retro in a rocking' early '70s way (but what rock and roll since 1965 hasn't looked backwards?) The Ride Ons wear King Gee workshirts and chew bits of straw. As they say on Wall Street: "Buy without reservation." - The Barman

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