|JOANovARC – ‘Ride of Your Life’ (Red Vixen Records)|
|Written by Rich Hobson|
|Tuesday, 17 January 2017 04:00|
With the glut of fantastic releases that made 2016 such a joy to be a music lover, it was inevitable that a record (or twenty) would slip through the cracks. JOANovARC’s hard rockin’ debut ‘Ride Of Your Life’ is one of those records. Released back in November, ‘Ride of Your Life’ makes some pretty bold claims right from the get-go, but damn if it doesn’t half deliver.
‘Ride of Your Life’ is a Rock record with a capital “R”. This is heavy drinkin’, big hair riffing just like you (don’t) remember from the '80s, evoking the likes of Heart or a less ‘70s obsessed The Answer. For a record so clearly dipped in bombast and raunchy rock n roll appeal, you might be surprised to know that it was produced by Gil Norton, most normally associated with Pixies and Foo Fighters. There’s no navel-gazing introspection on JOANovARC’s debut; the band are more a call back to the glory days, when any band with a big enough personality and even bigger riffs could rule the roost.
Production values are clean and crisp, whilst the songs still maintain a raw hunger that marks the band out as one very much clawing their way up from nothing. Where bands like Halestorm and Alter Bridge are hailed for their efforts in bringing Arena sized bombast back to Rock, Joanovarc actually deliver, with just as much aplomb as the greats like Plant, Jagger or Tyler ever did.
Eleven tracks long, ‘Ride Of Your Life’ fires on all cylinders, at all times. The album’s eponymous opener hits hard and fast, dripping grease and sleaze in a way that inevitably draws comparison to the likes of Girlschool, or a much slicker, well-oiled Motorhead. Follow up ‘Dragon In The Sky’ offers more in the jaunty stakes, bouncing along for a glunky (glam-punky for those not in the know) combination that wouldn’t be out of place on a Michael Monroe or Hanoi Rocks record.
If you find your rock too neutered and toothless, JOANovARC are here to rescue your ears. Tracks like ‘White Trash’ and ‘Seeds of Summer’ are the kind of proto-anthems that Alter Bridge have desperately sought out and never quite achieved. Sounding triumphant and upbeat, this is Joanovarc at their most anthemic, whilst still not losing their crucial raw edge. ‘Live Rock N Roll’ could easily come from the same sleaze pool that created ultra-slick songs like ‘Slither’ and ‘She Builds Quick Machines’ by Velvet Revolver. Oozing cool, Joanovarc are able seamlessly shift gears throughout the album, following ‘Live Rock N Roll’ with the more blues-inspired stomping track ‘Going Down’.
Just because they’re schooled on the greats doesn’t mean that JOANovARC can’t pull out the odd pop banger, either. ‘Running Away’ could easily be covered by '80s era Springsteen or Bryan Adams. Earnest, cheesy and fun to sing along to all at once, it’s a great demonstration of the band’s ear for a catchy tune without catering to image. The ‘Lovecats’-ish bassline to ‘Work’ suggests that the band drink from a musical inspiration much deeper than just your bread and butter rock n roll, acting as a perfect demonstration to how each instrument sizzles and pops perfectly in harmony with everything else without sounding too clean.
‘Ride Of Your Life’ closes on the balladic ‘Peace Of Mind’, showing off a much gentler style than elsewhere on the record. A stand-out track if only because its sparseness stands at odds with the rest of the album, this is the archetypal power ballad closing number, complete with howling guitars and big vocal performances to send the album off with a dramatic crescendo.
At 11 tracks and 40 minutes long, JOANovARC’s debut is an impressive first foray into the world of Rock N Roll. It cleverly acknowledges those that came before it, whilst also simultaneously avoiding pitfalls like clichés and sounding tired to come out on top as a great way to introduce the world to the band. And, if the rest of their albums can be this good, the world will definitely be listening.
‘Ride of Your Life’ is out now.
Watch our interview with JOANovARC at Hard Rock Hell X HERE.