Thursday, August 17, 2017

Album Review: The New Roses - One More For The Road

Not that long ago, I reviewed a record from a band I had never heard of that caught my attention. That was the previous album from The New Roses, which was one I enjoyed quite a bit, and that I cheaply compared to that old group with the word 'roses' in their name. I thought I was hearing what was going to be a band to watch, and then when the first single for this new record were released, I was left scratching my head. Was this really the same band that I enjoyed? What had happened?

That was because of the song "Life Ain't Easy (For A Boy With Long Hair)", which was a southern rock song with asinine lyrics that made me cringe from the moment I heard them. I don't know what the inspiration for that sort of thing was, but it made me incredibly nervous about diving into the entire album. The slippery slope is a very real thing.

Hitting the play button, the first thing we hear is "Quarter To Twelve", which is more in line with the classic hard rock I was expecting. There are hints of Slash and Joe Perry in some of the guitar playing, and the rough vocals fit right in. That's when the band is at their best, but there are elements on this record that get thrown in and distract from their strengths. "My Own Worst Enemy" is a solid bluesy rock track with some very nice guitar work and a solid chorus. The problem is that right before that kicks in is a terrible few seconds of layered "na-na" vocals, which are a nod to the modern 'rock' that hits the pop charts. Not only does it sound bad, it sounds completely out of place for a band like this. They're short interruptions, but the kill the song every time they come along.

Thankfully, the majority of the album is made up of the kind of songs The New Roses excel at; gritty rock and roll that feel like a more direct and tame version of the drug-fueled Guns N' Roses experience. Those adjectives are not to be taken as a slight. Guns had gotten too far up their own backsides, so not being as self-indulgent, and self-destructive, is not a complaint. The New Roses have the same spirit, but don't drift off into 'artistic' neverlands. They stay in the sweet spot of writing songs.

The downside of their approach is that while The New Roses are a very good band at what they do, it can be said they don't define their own identity well enough that you're going to remember these songs long after you hear the album. That's what happened to me with their last album, and I'm afraid that's what will happen here too. The music is good, but since it reminds me so much of other things, it won't have the same impact as a group doing something clearly their own.

So with that being said, let's cut to the chase. "One More For The Road" is The New Roses doing their thing, and doing it well. Yes, "Life Ain't Easy..." is a terrible song, but it's only one track, and the rest of the album lives up to what I was expecting. There isn't a lot of good ol' hard rock anymore, and The New Roses provide that. I can easily recommend this album for anyone who wants a good time with some good music.

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