Sunday, March 30, 2014

DORYDRIVE "Here's To You"

(c) 2014 First Launch Records

  1. Radiate
  2. Paramour
  3. Here's To You
  4. Tattooed
  5. Perfect Chemical
  6. When The Lights Burn Out
  7. Take Me
  8. Better Part Of me
  9. Never Easy
  10. Dance Baby Dance
  11. All The Same
  12. Your Gravity
Mathieu Nevittt--Vocals
Joey Zak--Drums
Tom LaBrosse--Guitar
Henry Koller--Guitar
Nicholas Mendini--Bass

Dorydrive is a band that is new to me, but apparently not the modern rock scene.  This is understandable because I fear that satellite radio is starting to become what we all hated about terrestrial radio--a corporate-controlled outlet for flavor-of-the-month bands and not bands that have real talent and would interest music fans.  But, I digress...

This Nashville, TN based 5-piece band is actually on their second record now, although, in all fairness, this new effort, Here's To You, actually includes seven songs from their out-of-print debut.  Again, that's not an issue for me, as I had never heard the band or debut record, and there are still five new tracks here for those who may have been following the band for a while now.  

Upon first listen, there are immediate lines of similarity that can be drawn between Dorydrive and Daughtry, at least to my ears.  The Midwestern-rock style that both bands incorporate is used to great effect here.  Nevitt's vocals have that same impassioned quality to them that Daughtry's do, however Nevitt sings in a slightly higher tenor range that Daughtry, but the approach and delivery is similar without sounding like an intentional rip-off.  But power and emotion are not things that can be copied, and Nevitt has plenty of both, especially when you hear him tackle a mid-tempo rocker like "Paramour", which I challenge anyone to explain to me why it isn't a hit already!  

The feel of this entire record is generally positive and upbeat without the typical whining sentiments so many rock bands seem to incorporate these days.  Never treading into metal territory, this record is chock full of very solidly written modern hard rock, occasionally incorporating production tricks to keep the sound radio ready, such as in the stop-start-stop-start vocal effects used on the record's lead single, "Here's To You", a nice rocker that I imagine the ladies will be dancing along to while holding a beer high in one hand, low-cut jeans swiveling back and forth while the guys stand back and nod approvingly.   

One thing that really helps Dorydrive with their sound and approach is a GREAT guitar tandem in LaBrosse and Koller that drives each of these tracks.  Feeding off of each other, whether playing acoustic, rhythm, or lead guitars, these two set the tone for how each of these songs is going to be interpreted by the listener. Case in point is the chugging guitar of "Paramour" which provides the perfect backdrop for Nevitt's vocals, never overpowering them, but rather enhancing them and giving them more backbone.  The driving rhythm guitar of "Tattooed" moves the song along perfectly, stopping only briefly after the choruses and then leading into a great little guitar solo break that offers a glimpse of the skill that I am willing to bet is put on display in a live setting.  The drum and bass work here is also excellent, with "Dance Baby Dance", "Perfect Chemical", and several other songs incorporating a danceable rhythm to the band's rock stance, again in a vein akin to what Daughtry has used so effectively.  The same can be said of the title track, "Here's To You", which took my brain to Nickelback's "S.E.X.", when I first heard it, incorporating a dance beat, some chug-a-chug riffing, and an electronic current running underneath the track throughout its entirety.    

For the ladies, a couple of nice ballads are thrown into the mix, with the piano-based "When The Lights Burn Out" being the strongest of the two, really allowing Nevitt's voice to take center stage.  "All The Same" is a good song as well, replacing the piano with acoustic guitar, but lacking a bit of the originality of "...Burn Out", as "All The Same" feels, honestly, the same a as a lot of other radio rock ballads, leaving the listener with the inkling that they have heard this exact song before.  

"Never Easy" has a kind of post-grunge feel to the feel of the song, like a lot of the late 90's/early 2000's bands like Three Doors Down and Daughtry became famous with.  Perhaps this should come as no surprise, as the band has toured with bands of this style, such as The Calling, Default, and Our Lady Peace, which offer similar takes to their musical approach.  And you know what, it works for these guys.  "Take Me As I Am" is another one of these styled tracks; a solidly-written mid-tempo guitar rocker that rock stations should be gobbling up, while it is likely that edgier satellite stations like Octane will find too tame to program on a regular basis.  Album closer "Your Gravity" has a similar approach and feel, combining both electric and acoustic guitar to great effect on this U2-ish track which wraps up a very likable record in nice fashion.

The packaging is a pretty basic tri-fold insert, complete with lyrics, credits, and thank-you's, and a single group photo.  Of course, the only photo anyone is likely to be looking at is the back cover featuring some deliberately torn jeans and a well-placed tattoo of the band's logo!  

If you like your personal soundtrack to include some real, raw, Midwestern rock to its sound, Dorydrive is one of the better bands I have heard in some time.  Again, there won't be any headbanging going on, but there will be a lot of toe-tapping and steering-wheel drumming when Here's To You is given a spin.  Unafraid to play what they like and what they are skilled at, even if it isn't what corporate radio thinks you want to hear, Dorydrive needs to stay the course, in my opinion, as they will gain a solid fanbase by being who they are and not who others think they should be.  

Rating:  Rock this to a very listenable, very summer-ready 6.5.  

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