Santa Barbara’s Winchester Rebels came out of the gate with a blazingly popular independent release in 2011 when they dropped their debut album titled Three Sheets To The Wind. They captured the ears of the hard rock faithful with songs that bordered on classic MTV-era arena ready tunes and the deep gut rhythms and styling’s of mid 90’s rock heroes like Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and the popular trendsetters heard on FM radio in the modern rock era.
On August 24th, the band issues their full-length sophomore release titled Warrior, boasting the tail end of classic American muscle car on the cover and nine tracks ready to blast while spinning your wheels down the open highway. In fact, this is a great way to host your first listening party on this CD. Start the car, press the play button and put the car in drive.
The CD begins with a familiar American/Southern feel that the band maintains in all their songs. The listener is immediately drawn in to the twang of a steel strung acoustic guitar that leads builds into a beat that will drive up your pulse and increase the speed you’re driving at. The stellar production quality of the recording offers tightly gated bass drum kick that gives a firm foundation to the 16th note rhythm under the verse. The opening track is titled Golden Line. The harmonies that blend in the chorus are guaranteed to hook your ear and pull you inside the song. Do not be surprised if you choose to listen to it twice before proceeding to track two … aptly titled Fast, because that’s how you’re driving by now!
Keep the volume up for the second song! Not at all unlike the best of what churns the K-Rock [KROQ] dial’s fame in Los Angeles, this song is built to perfection with catchy lyrics that bounce on the single stringed guitar melody in the pre-chorus. It’s just tasty! Then that lyric that almost reads your mind, “Don’t Wait For The Green Light, Just Go – This Engine’s Built For Rock And Roll!” After a slithering solo that unwinds over a few memorable measures, the band inserts the assertive – a driving and pounding bridge back into the chorus. You’ll be glad for the opening of track three, My Ways, because it will allow you half a minute to catch your breath.
I’ve felt that since I found this band and added them to my collection; they aren’t living a life I can’t understand. Not unlike what straightforward Americana music brings to the table, the lyrics in their songs are easy to digest, more than easy to understand and quite applicable to just about any mood you’re in. They don’t hinder the music; they talk of existence in the moment, and spell a story that you get, on the first shot. You’ll be singing along to the second chorus of any song after hearing it the first time.
You’re going to keep listening but let me jump in to track five. It’s called Mirrors and it’s delicately haunting, emotionally inspiring and has a great build up to a moment when the volume is up, the beat is driving and bam … they leave you floating for just a measure and they culminate the experience in a hook laden chorus that you’ll be singing in your head tonight when you go to sleep. It’s infectious, and this reviewer loves it!
Not to compare the band musically to the cult flavored band The Verve Pipe, but if you are familiar with the Michigan based band, you might recall the 1996 release titled Villains. The disc offered a hit single that had nothing at all to do with the band’s sound, and while it’s mostly what the general public knows of them, the rest of the album earned a long standing cult acclaim that drives people to purchase a copy of the original CD any time they see it in a used record store because its just that good. It’s a must to own a copy for the car, a copy for the house and a copy for the bookshelf. THAT is the kind of album you’ll find in Warrior.
Lets take a quick look at tracks seven and eight. Waters Rage begins with an all balls out guitar line over a riff that screams, “Here I Am!” Gushing out from the inside, vocalist Nick Hunt shares something personal and deep from his understanding of life and how it works. You’ll hear it, you’ll get it. A lot like Boston native and underground songwriting legend Tommy Dempsey, who has the innate ability to tell you not just how, but why it is the way it is, Hunt gives the feeling of someone on your level with not just what he sings, but how he pours it out.
Track eight is a new version of the hit song Down from their first CD. It graduates to a more experienced and educated sound and style from the first CD and shows the natural progression of artists that began five years ago and now know one another, their performance and songwriting styles intimately.
As any girl will let you know, the band singing something soft and soothing will win their hearts, and the band does that, but tucks the mellow track in to the back end of the CD with the title track, Warrior in the ninth spot slot. Enjoy it! It’s like that thick layer of icing over a perfectly baked cake.
The track listing on the CD is as follows:
01. Golden Line
03. My Ways
04. Don’t Mess Around
07. Waters Rage
Winchester Rebels are:
Nick Hunt – Vocals
Nick Fitzgerald – Guitar
James Longoria – Guitar
John Livergood – Bass
Barry Carter – Drums
Learn more about the band and pre-order the CD online now at www.winchesterrebels.com.