Tuesday, November 18, 2014
X-Drive is the brain child of previously unknown guitarist Jeremy Brunner and he has brought an all-star cast of musicians along to the party. The other members of X-Drive are vocalist Keith St. John (x-Montrose, Quiet Riot), bassist James Lomenzo (both he and St. John were in Lynch Mob at the time they came on-board) and drummer Fred Fischer (from the grunge band Midline). The disc was co-produced by Andy Johns (along with Brunner), who is well familiar with the sound of this era having produced/engineered bands that ranged from Led Zeppelin and Free to Van Halen and L.A. Guns.
The disc starts with a swaggering, hard-rock number “Love’s A Bitch” where St. John’s vocals bear more than a passing resemblance to Paul Rodgers and Brunner tosses off licks that sound like they could have come out of Eddie Van Halen’s playbook. Changing the groove a bit on the third track, “Steppin’ On The Rock” is a darker, grungy song whose sound falls somewhere between Krokus and Alice in Chains.
X-Drive switches gears with the obligatory rock ballad, “Baby Bye Bye”, which, thankfully, still has a bit of ‘teeth’. “Baby Bye Bye” is a breakup song which features emotive vocals from St. John along with a nice guitar solo toward the end of the track and sounds a bit like something Bon Jovi would have written. Bringing the tempo back up, this number is followed by the disc’s first single, “California”. This track is a laid-back, ‘summer’ number which prominently features big, big hooks and melodic vocals with big harmonies on the chorus (you’ll likely be thinking of Night Ranger after listening to this one).
The back-half of the disc picks the pace back up with some hard-rockers that bring to mind bands such as Whitesnake, Foreigner and Bad Company. Some of the highlights include the power ballad “Fly Beyond the Angels”, where Brunner’s soaring guitar line and St. John’s emotive vocals carry the song. “Just Can’t Stay” is a Whitesnake style blues-rocker with a slow, driving beat which are broken up by tempo changes on the chorus. The disc ends with the wailing blues rocker, “Love Breaks the Fool”, which brings to mind old-school Bad Co.
It is somewhat funny to think that that – 30 years after the fact – someone (Brunner) could solidly nail the sounds of 80’s arena rock. James Lomenzo said “It was such a pleasure to contribute to Jeremy's effort! He has written and crafted an incredible homage to the style of the 80's rock, a style that I cut my teeth on back in the day…His love for the era and style really comes through in a surprisingly satisfying way.”