With Riff Raff’s opening track of “Close Shave” off their debut album “By The Seat Of Our Pants”, they deliver with nothing short of a cannon shot of attacking AC/DC style riffing that drives their first number all the way home like the a head of nail receiving it’s final, seating blow with a simple musical statement: “Sit down, Shut up, turn it up and don’t you dare just listen – feel…!!”
“Rock and Roll Mama” starts off with a delicious blues based boogey groove and morph’s into an eclectic mix mash of 70’s style rock pinned down nicely with a solid driving bass line with Ray’s vocal on a dangerous shimmer of dare I say it – Elvis-ish swagger, a style that he carries through the album and is distinctly stronger in some tracks than others. It’s a nice trademark to have.
“Porterstown” from the get go sets up on a darkened minor tone and delivers a very mature feel of pensive writing both lyrically and musically with an overt feel of displacement, loneliness and longing. I liked it a lot.
“Two Chairs” is an absolute belter!! There can be nothing more needed to be said. Crank it up and enjoy it!! Leaving the disc play and leading straight into a rather unsettling country/ditty style opening lick of “Drink Till Ya Drop”, this song quickly find its feet and steamrolls you in no uncertain terms!! Great “get up and go” track!!
“Wedding Dance” opens up with a nice dirty edge to it – think Lindsey Buckingham style “jangley” riffing/strumming work and then add a good slop of drive on to it. Ray’s voice opens up nicely toward the end of this track and is a pleasure to hear. Solid bass line and tighter than tight drumming keeps this track nicely on cue.
“Ready to Rumble” just knocks you straight out!! Belter?? No way!! This is WAY more!! This song so aptly fits the title; you can smell the sweat as the band group closer, tighter and flat out sucker punch you. Nice one lads!!
Wow!! That’s about as much as I had left within me after the sonic assault that is “Field Of Rifles”. Loved, loved, loved the tight changes during the chorus!!
Some very tasty blues slide and licking takes you in a refreshing change of pace and feel in “Wrecks”. Ray’s shimmer in his voice comes clearly through and it definitely grows on you. Stand back when the bass line kicks in to this number – it adds a mighty hoof to an already very solid track. Very bluesy track morphing into some nice rock riff blues based passion. Unfortunately the track “just cut out” 2.19 so it couldn’t be enjoyed all the way to the end.
“Screaming In Your Sleep” is one of the better mixed down tracks on this album with more distinction to the individual instruments and clarity all round. The track is a bit different from others on the album – not in a bad way – just less aggressive.
Combine a distinctly chunky and solid groove, some very distinct chords and wrap it all with a heart blown harmonica. Nothing short of majestic!! ‘Leaving of Liepzig’ has a distinct Floyd-ish feel to it and as much as I hate comparing bands to other bands, there is no getting away from this one and it really is an awesome track to “zone out” to. This would be an awesome live show piece that I can see “extending” on stage for quite a while to allow some extended solo-ing for all the guys. Not characteristic of Riff Raff’s riffy rock sound but so impressive.
The album closes with “Jet” and sees Riff Raff slamming the door in your face with a brutal return to their rocking ways, with a steam train bass line to push this song along over some more impassioned vocals and raunchy guitar work. Wow!! What a ride!!
Caution for the unfit: This album is hard work to listen to without getting out of breath from foot tapping, head banging and generally being assaulted with some very classy solid rock tunes!!! Be warned!!
On a downer (boooo!!!!) some sloppy post production has let this album slip a little. I found that in general Ray’s vocal was buried a little too deep in the mix and quite often becomes indistinct, which was a crying shame on tracks like Porterstown and Wedding Dance where there is such a powerful vocal performance. Proof reading the details of the cover sleeves and bio would be advantageous as well.
To sum up Riff Raff’s debut album: “Stand by your beds!!” It’s brutally hard hitting in all the right places and spaces and there is just enough of a change in tempo and feel to keep the listener engaged and gagging for more. It’s a very impressive start to what can only be better things to come. Listening to this album today, I am sorry I wasn’t there to see them perform their set live at the album launch as it must have been nothing short of mind numbingly great!!
I don’t want to pick a favourite track as there were parts in every track that really appealed to me, but if I needed to give someone an idea of what Riff Raff epitomizes (to me), I would say “Two Chairs” and “Drink Till Ya Drop” sum them up as nastily and nicely as needed.
Phew!! I need to have a short rest…that album just took me on quite a ride!!!
Check out the album below and let us know what YOU think.