1. Never Settle
2. The Rapture
3. Take It From Me
4. End Of The Show
5. Bat City
6. Let The Night
7. Lady Of The Night
8. Comin’ Around
9. Run And Hide
10. Right On The Money
I was not familiar with The Drugstore Gypsies prior to hearing this album, but it sounds like I have been missing out based on these 10 songs. These guys cover a lot of musical ground with a band like the Georgia Satellites being a really good starting point. With the rise of Blackberry Smoke and Cadillac Three, these guys have a great opportunity to see their status rise in similar fashion. They never chase their tails here as they venture from Hard Rock to Blues Rock and some subtle elements that tap into some Country sounds.
They storm out of the gate with ‘Never Settle’ featuring A LOT of guitar. There are times where I think of AC/DC here but the vocals and textures channel more the Southern Rock approach. The guitar riffs cut across your soul for the whole 3 minutes while Duke Ryan’s vocals provide encouragement to stay strong during the rough times to reap the long-term rewards that are possible. ‘The Rapture’ slows the tempo a bit with a great guitar riff by Dillan Dostal with Korey Davis (bass) and Reynaldo Chapa (drums) providing a great beat that gets the body moving. There are many lyrical gems throughout these songs with one of them here being ‘please the ones you love, appease the ones you know.’ There is also a great spoken word piece at the end recalling a street preacher. The production and the mix on the album also need to be recognized as each member should be pleased with what has been done here.
When ‘Take It From Me’ begins with some awesome barroom piano, you are forgiven if you double check to see if you have stumbled into a saloon. John Wilson (Hammond Organ, rhythm guitar) does an awesome job on the keys across the album, but this is the first song where the piano work really gets a chance to shine with the solo being one of my favourite moments on the album. Ryan’s vocals here are another home run. Put this on the radio and watch people from different paths rally around it. For comparisons, think about the Georgia Satellites, the Rolling Stones, the Black Crowes, etc. The approach is not new, but it doesn’t matter when it is done with 100% Proof genuine Rock 'n Roll spirits. This one has become one of my favorites from the album. The band add another twist with ‘End Of The Show’ adding some Country flavours to the Rock mix but think Texas Country and not the Country Pop Nashville peddles. The chorus is huge here with this one ironically not employing as many backing vocals. Everyone contributes to the backing vocals across the album, but they would have detracted from Ryan’s vocals here. We get some more subtle ones in the background here, but they really serve to showcase Ryan. Wrapping up the first half of the record is the rocking Blues of ‘Bat City.’ Dostal’s lead guitar work is awesome with this one including some great guitar licks. While the band never quite hit the full on Hard Rock approach of the much missed Four Horsemen, they come really close at times.
‘Let The Night’ opens up Side B with another slice of rocking Texas County and a smooth winning vocal by Ryan. The hook here is not complicated and should go over extremely well live with newbies being able to sing along by the second chorus and make new friends in the process. This might ultimately be my weakest link on the album, but that really just speaks to the quality of the rest of the songs as this would be a standout on other records. A slithering Blues beat carries ‘Lady Of The Night’ with Davis and Chapa again shining, especially in the chorus where they propel the lyrics. The Blues licks wrap perfectly around the beat here. On paper, it might look funny to have the two songs with ‘Night’ in their title be beside each other, but you don’t care when the album is playing because these songs need to be sung, have some air guitar, and air drumming to go along with them.
‘Comin’ Around’ brings the band back to full hard rocking tempo with another great guitar riff that dances effortlessly with the beat. If you can sit still during this album, you may want to check your pulse… and your soul. This is another one where the rest of the band let Ryan’s vocals really handle the hooks all alone. Distorted guitar strums welcome the ballad ‘Run And Hide’ where the band turns in a huge chorus. This one rises from the well of Lynyrd Skynyrd and deserves to be heard across classic Rock stations around the world. The band then throw yet another ace on the table with closer ‘Right On The Money’ with its swinging Classic Rock Blues groove sounding like what you would expect to hear in a movie as you see the guys driving deeper into the South. This has been another favourite of mine from the very first listen. The closing refrain with the guys and Ryan working the vocal interplay on the chorus sounds amazing.
The Drugstore Gypsies immediately converted me to be a fan within the first notes of the album and the connection only grew throughout these 10 songs. This is a band that has stayed true to the old format of 10 songs in under 40 minutes and makes me wish I had it on vinyl. One of the key balances for a great album for me is to leave me wanting more but also not making me feel short changed either. The Drugstore Gypsies have hit the balance perfectly. Say hello to the band that is going to help you soundtrack your life for years to come.
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Website - https://www.thedrugstoregypsies.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/TheDrugstoreGypsies/
Review - Gerald Stansbury