Album Review - Sugar Red Drive

Hailing from that (sarcastic) hot bed of rock and roll activity, Poughkeepsie, New York, comes Sugar Red Drive, a band that started out with some musically frustrated kids from Vassar and a dream.

What they got together and ended up producing is a solid effort in modern rock and roll. It's radio rock, simple as that, but without wallowing in the mellodrama or manufactured, artificial emotion so often seen in today's popular rock. Their eponymous effort helps to fill a necessary and too often ignored gap in music, which is that of easy going, intelligent but not complicated rock. Throughout the history of the genre, there has always been a place for rock pure and simple, from The Pretenders to Collective Soul to the Foo Fighters. Sugar Red Drive's album may not have enough appeal to achieve that lofty status, but that's the gap they're shooting for.

The album begins with pounding would be rock anthems "Wicked Sister" and "Velvet Leash," which set a pace for not only the album to come, but the band's affect. The two songs establish Sugar Red Drive as something more than just wallpaper in an alt-rock dominated market. The consistency of sound is a bonus, especially for a band in their birth pangs, and still trying to sculpt their sound. The overall product is still soft around the edges, but the spirit is solidly connected to a central musical theme. Rather than take the easy path of selling a single like so many of their contemporaries have done, Sugar Red Drive is engaged in an effort to create a reputation as a casual rock go-along.

It's not all roses, though. The album loses steam in the middle, as the band puts together a momentum killing set of "Grace," "Miller's Daughter," "Liar," and "Overdrive." These songs vary between being too easily digestible, too generic, or too emotionally contrived. By the time the listener has run that guantlet and gets back into better songs such as "Comin Down," and "Somebody Else," he or she may well have run out of patience and interest. I know I had to snap myself back into paying attention for those tracks.

There's more good than bad here, and there's a lot to build on. For fans of Collective Soul, there's music to be had here. Others should rent before they buy.

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