X DRIVE 2014

X-DRIVE – Get Your Rock On

X Drive - Get Your Rock OnOnce in a while you spot a band with a name that catches your eyes, but you take notice for all the wrong reasons, like you think that the name is kinda crap. When said band also gives their album a name that’s almost too cliché to be a cliché, you just shake your head and don’t wanna know. X-Drive is such a band and the title of their debut album, Get Your Rock On is such a title and normally I wouldn’t even have bothered listening, but I saw some of the band’s members’ names and got curious anyway. When I write “band”, you probably should read “project” because that’s what most of these groups are. The names that got me interested were bass player James Lomenzo (White Lion, Megadeth, Black Label Society) and singer Keith St John (Lynch Mob, Montrose) and the fact that this album was produced by the legendary Andy Johns (Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Cinderella) was something that just couldn’t be ignored. Fact is, X-Drive was the last album that Johns produced before his tragic death in 2013. The group was built by – and around – unknown guitar wizard Jeremy Brunner with drummer Fred Fischer completing the line-up. Knowing that Lomenzo usually don’t jump on mediocre stuff (ok, so he was in White Lion, but don’t hold that against him – he’s an amazing player!) and Andy Johns would certainly not put his name on something that was even close to blowing dog. But still, the name of the band and the ludicrous album title still made me a bit dubious. Anyway, when these ears listens to new music they’re wide open for all kinds of impressions and with an open mind there’s great music to experinece and truth be told, I own albums by bands with much worse names and album titles than this. So let’s rock this mutha up, then.

“Love’s A Bitch” (how’s that for a cliché…?) kicks the album into motion, but unfortunately, the album’s opening track is ordinary and mediocre hard rock and when the title track that follows turns out to sound nothing more than like a poor man’s Gotthard, I can only wrinkle my nose in disbelief. This sure do not bode well for the remaining of the album. “Steppin’ On The Rock” keeps me dubious, to me that song feels like a standard hard rock song, steeped in the shape of a million other songs. Ouch! But by track number four, the ballad “Baby Bye Bye” something happens. The hook is really strong and the melody is so catchy and if this song had been released in 1991, it would have shipped this album double platinum, mark my words. Awesome! And they keep on delivering the goods after that. “California” is pop metal like it should be played, catchy as hell with a big hit feel, “Lay Me Down” sounds like a poppier version of Whitesnake of the 90’s, “Beyond The Angels” is a fantastic ballad, dressed in every emotion you can think of and “Just Can’t Stay” is the best song Whitesnake never included on their 1987 album. Phew! Talk about making up for a lame introduction! “Change Of Heart” is a great uptempo pop rocker and “Love Breaks The Fool” closes the album in a very catchy way – it’s a pop metal song with so many hooks it could open a shop for fishing accessories. Again, Whitesnake and especially David Coverdale seems to be the influence. St John sounds so much like ole Cov it’s scary. But somehow I get the feeling it’s unintentional and the song is so good that it doesn’t matter at all.

As a whole, I’d say that this is a very good album even though the first few tracks are pretty lame. The over all sound comes from the 80’s with a touch of the 70’s, very catchy music but at the same time very groovy and riff friendly and within the clean pop metal sound, influences from bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple are never far away. Also, all the musicians here are right on the spot – singer St John sounds like a mix of David Coverdale, Steve Lee (Gotthard, 1963 – 2010, RIP) and Johnny Gioeli (Hardline, Axel Rudi Pell). There is nothing original about this band what so ever, but who cares? I’d rather have great songs than some pretentious schmuck doing his / her best to sound as unusual as possible on the expense of good songs – the only thing that really matters at the end of the day. This is really good hard rock, no more, no less and if that’s your thing, this album is recommended.

Jon Wilmenius (7/10)

Tracklist:

01. Love’s A Bitch
02. Get Your Rock On
03. Steppin’ On The Rock
04. Baby Bye Bye
05. California
06. Lay Me Down
07. Turn The Noize Down
08. Beyond The Angels
09. Rattlesnake Eyes
10. Just Can’t Stay
11. Change Of Heart
12. Love Breaks The Fool

 

 

 

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