“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Texas Hippie Coalition, the self-described “red dirt metal” band certainly subscribes to that theory. With Ride On, their fourth album, there is nothing groundbreaking compared to their previous albums. Then again, go back to the opening statement. If something is working, change just for the sake of change isn’t necessarily a good thing.
Although fans of the band will find the songs right in their comfort zone, there are two things that are radically different about Ride On. One is guitarist Cord Pool, who makes his first appearance on a THC studio album. The second is the lack of a second guitarist. As vocalist Big Dad Ritch put it, Pool is such a strong guitar player that a second guitarist was deemed unnecessary.
The album is definitely Pool’s coming out party. In addition to providing some amazing guitar work, he also had a hand in writing many of the songs.
When a band is stripped down to just three instruments, each player must not only carry their weight, but excel. Bass player John Exall and drummer Timmy Braun are both able partners to Pool. Two of the hardest songs are the title track and Splinter. Producer Skidd Mills wisely has the bass prominently up in the mix, accentuating the heavy feel of the songs, while Big Dad Ritch’s vocals alternate between low growl and intense scream, sometimes on the same song. On the chorus to Splinter, he blasts “I make you bend and break, (I crush I whip I break!) too much for you to take, (I smash I tear I take!)”
Then there’s one of Ritch’s current favorite songs, Bottom Of The Bottle. The tune starts out with a bruising guitar riff as the bass and drums join in. The electric guitar drops out as the verse begins, replace by a gentle acoustic guitar—which you know won’t last very long. Sure enough, as the chorus kicks in, the electric is back as Ritch sings “All I ever wanted was to be somewhere where I could hear you S C R E A M!!”
Each song on Ride On could be similarly dissected, but truth be told there isn’t a weak song on the album. Anyone who like their Southern rock on the hard side (think Pantera more than Lynyrd Skynyrd) will definitely like—strike that—NEED this album.