Whether delivered via a grungy hue in “Destiny,” a countrified swing in “Real to Me” or through a crisp rock mix ala “So Far So Good,” JD & the RetroRyders are all about powerful guitar-driven harmonies in 100% Cool. Between the strings and the vocals, there’s a white-hot chemistry that produces some surprisingly sterling foundations for most every exciting moment this EP has to offer, but I wouldn’t say that the disc is an homage to a similarly conventional classic rock model. This is a band that blends together a lot of eclectic influences, but despite their scattered origin, the music they create is anything but unfocused.
Beyond the interplay between the guitar parts and the vocals, there are plenty of intriguing beats to behold on 100% Cool. Take the slick “If It’s Out There It’s Mine” or mildly balladic “When She Cries” for prime examples; though both of these tracks are steeped in enormous guitar grooves, they wouldn’t be nearly as engaging were they not riddled with the potent percussive elements they’re each afforded here. JD & the RetroRyders aren’t communicating through singular channels in this extended play; for all intents and purposes, they’re utilizing the studio – and their instrumental output – as much as possible in this capacity.
This record has a really great flow that allows for otherwise conflicting compositions like “Real to Me” and “Rock n Roll Now” to sit together in the tracklist rather seamlessly. 100% Cool often feels less like an EP than it does an album that’s been tightly packed into a sample format – even at its most simplistic, like the aforementioned “Rock n Roll Now,” it’s got a full-bodied feel that isn’t frequently found in this type of a release. There are a lot of ways to broach a six-song package, but from where I sit, JD & the RetroRyders give fans more bang for our buck than the average indie outfit does in 2020.
It would be really interesting to hear some heavier material from this band in the future, mostly because the metallic components of these songs suggest a fiery side worth exploring. Aesthetically speaking, I think it would be safe to say that JD & the RetroRyders have a lot of Seattle grunge and post-alternative hard rock in their daily diet, but they’re not posting up throwbacks in this debut offering. They’re still coming into their own, and with the fretwork they lay down here, I can’t wait to hear what they can do with more firepower and room to breathe in the studio.
There’s still a lot of work to be done, but the potential that JD & the RetroRyders are boasting in 100% Cool is unmistakable even to the most novice of critics. 2020 has been an interesting year for rock so far, but if you’re looking for something consistent (and a little familiar, but in a good way), this is one extended play you won’t want to miss out on. Quality beats quantity every time, and that’s especially true in a disc like this one.
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