June 27, 2012

Music Review: Sugar Red Drive - A Story of Signs

I am kind of surprised I had not crossed paths with Sugar Red Drive before their label debut release arrived on my doorstep. Why, you ask? Well, the band hails from Poughkeepsie, NY, which is right in my neck of the woods and I have a bunch of friends in and around the local rock scene. Whatever, I guess it doesn't really matter much at this point. What really matters now is the music contained within A Story of Signs.

Sugar Red Drive are a decent, radio-friendly rock outfit whose songs are catchy enough and have a way of worming themselves into your head. The problem is that, while you may find yourself humming along as the songs play, you will be hard pressed to genuinely remember them. I find they have that song that is common among radio-rock acts and they sort of blend into the crowd. There really is nothing here that makes them stand out from the crowd. This is not to say they do not have the skills to build from this and create something truly unique and memorable, I think the ability is there. I suspect this is merely a foot in the door for them.

The band is fronted by Zambian-born Archit Tripathi, who traveled to many different countries due to his father's work, before landing in Poughkeepsie and attending Vassar College. He connected with bandmates David Alexander (bass), Jim Knauss (guitar), and PJ Gasperini (drums) through messages on MySpace (remember that site?). Well, they got together and things just clicked for the four-piece. It is interesting to note that I stared at the drummer's name for a long time, it seemed very familiar to me. As it turns out, he is the son of Pat Gasperini who saw brief fame on the national stage when his band, Pound, released an album on Island Records. Pound was another radio-friendly act, they were kind of fun but never stuck around. Hopefully, Sugar Red Drive is able to one-up Pound's fate.

Now, Sugar Red Drive have a solid groove-rock foundation that will infect your brain. Songs such as "Comin Down," "Water in Wine," and "Grace" have that knee bouncing feel that will get you moving, whether you want to or not. A big part of the problem is that there is not a lot of variety to the songs, it is almost like listening to one big song. Sadly, if you put them in a line up with Hinder, Train, Seether, Theory of a Deadman, and others of this ilk, I would be hard pressed to really say any of them stand out from the crowd. I guess if I spent more time with this style I would see the differences, but as it stands, I don't see anything to truly hold my attention long term.

However, all is not lost. Their anti-war track, "Marching Man," is their most memorable and showcases there otherwise hidden ability to truly stand out and make something with actual emotional depth. This song gives the band an identity more than anything else in this collection. It takes a stand and sticks with, legitimately. This is the kind of song you can build around. I am not saying they all need to be like this, but it can be the song to rally around, see what was different about this and take it to other creation.

I don't know. They do not come across as anything particularly special, but they are not terrible either. There is definite skill here and I like Tripathi's voice, there is some genuine feeling in there that could become something really good. It will be interesting to see where they go from here, hopefully up.

Mildly Recommended.

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