If the only quality on which to judge the relative merits of any given album was originality, we might as well take Idlewar's new Dig In EP, write it off as a dud and go home for dinner.
Groundbreaking, genre defying stuff this isn't, folks, but then again, it doesn't have to be. Indeed, originality isn't the only thing that makes good music, and the Orange County, California trio behind this raw burst of rock ‘n' roll understand that more than most.
With Dig In, Idlewar are no more interested in reinventing the rock ‘n' roll wheel than they are in breaking boundaries or subverting the conventions of the hard rock genre. Not these guys, they're far more interested in getting down to what it should all be about in the first place; plugging in, rocking out, and having an absolute blast in the process.
The results are immensely enjoyable, if hardly the most unique sounding thing you'll have heard this year. On tracks like opening stomper Chunk of Me and Eleventeen - the latter standing as one of the best of the whole bunch- the band wear their influences proudly on their sleeves without ever once coming close to being dismissed as clones.
The looping, buzz saw riffs that make such an integral part of Maryland rock monsters Clutch is present and correct, as is the unbridled energy of modern day Foo Fighters, whilst the impassioned vocals beg for comparisons to Chris Cornell rocking a late night jam with Swedish stoner outfit Truckfighters, especially on the insatiably catchy closing track, Stronger.
Yet if you start looking for any single moment among Dig In's assembled five tracks where you can that you could clearly single out as a replica of those aforementioned artists, you're only setting yourself up for disappointment. Familiar though this EP may be, it's equally as refreshing; just a straight forward rock ‘n' roll with no pretentions, no expectations and no objectives other than that all good rock bands should make their M.O: Having a damn good time.
On tracks like the aforementioned Chunk of Me, shades of AC/DC at their most primitive and dirty slide between revved engine bass, raw guitars and cymbal-heavy beats, whilst every beastly groove and and wail of the metal-inspired Pain shows the band at their most subdued and in tune. Yet despite the contrast between those two tracks, and indeed between the three others you'll find here, every moment is filled with this sense that the band (that's James Blake on bass and vocals, guitarist Rick Graham and Pete Pagonis behind the kit) are seriously enjoying what they do.
What's more, when you sense it, it's hard to do anything more than start enjoying yourself too, and is that what really makes the hallmark of a good hard rock album? Not originality, not groundbreaking, genre-mashing reinventions of the rock ‘n' roll wheel, but just pure, unadulterated good times? If so, we might as well take Idlewar's Dig In, mark it off as a great debut and head home for dinner, taking the band, and their hard rocking good times with us.
No-nonsense hard rock from an Orange County band who wear their influences on their sleeves in fulfilling a mission to plug in, rock out, and let the good times roll.
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