Vocalist Joe DeMeo and his band JD and the RetroRyders hail from the Huntington Beach area of Southern California and some of the region’s balmy sunlit days burn through the band’s music. It’s crossed, however, with a tough switchblade rock and roll presence that never abandons the band’s music. The collision of these distinct voices, informed by a lifetime of listening to the greats before them, produces JD and the RetroRyders’ music and they are reaching what should be the first of many peaks with their new six song EP HOTNSIXY.
It is a turning point, as well, for the seven piece band. Their preceding work was a string of CD singles, two tracks each, while the new release extends their creative range to the EP format. The RetroRyders have no difficulty generating six compelling tracks for the release. “All Summer Long”: is an obvious pick for both a concert opener and single as it touches on timeless rock and roll themes with an idiosyncratic voice giving it new freshness. It’s often said, especially about such forms as rock music, that there’s nothing new to say. Perhaps that’s true. But there’s always saying things in your own way.
Al Lepson’s guitar pyrotechnics are essential to the RetroRyders. He’s a capable rhythm guitarist, adapt shifting from laying down hard-charging chords, power chords, and even single string rhythm tracks, into scintillating lead guitar blasts. Melody is rarely far. “Destiny” will rank for many listeners as among the most complete songs included on the EP. It checks off all the boxes. DeMeo and his cohorts gives us dramatics and rock in equal measure with this song and Mike Wilson’s drums are the cornerstone.
“I Gotta Know” lights up the EP like a powerful car racing wide-open down a California highway Nothing can stop this tune. Jepson, Wilson, and bassist Adrian Sanchez nail down every turn and twist of this track with assertive precision, but the song breathes too. The band specializes in locking onto a groove and riding it for all its worth. Judged by that standard, “I Gotta Know” is a resounding success. “Rock N Roll Now” has all of the expected urgency you would imagine given the song title. It’s one of the EP’s highlights, the chorus most of all, and plays like some sort of pure distillation of the band’s spirit.
HOTNSIXY will peak for many with its closer. “She’s the One”, in some ways, is as earnest of a love song in a pop guitar rock setting as you can imagine, yet it’s never particularly sappy. DeMeo doesn’t have a classically skilled voice, no, but the bright personality he brings to the song’s phrasing adds to its fun as well. It’s an easy tune to embrace and concludes HOTNSIXY on a upbeat note. JD and the RetroRyders will add a lot of newcomers to their growing following on the back of this release and they deserve it. It’s the perfect next step for the band and sets the table for more to come.
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