The first full-length album by Arterial Drive exhibits tight musicianship and infectious melodies. The Billings band is a full-blown ball of energy and talent, laying down 12 originals guaranteed to rock you.
Arterial Drive is: founding members Drew McDowell, vocals/ guitars; Meg Gildehaus, vocals/violin; Josh Reedy, drums; Juanillo Chavis, bass/vocals; and new member Alex Campbell, bass (on two songs). The first three also play auxiliary percussion.
This is Chavis’s swan song. He left due to the rising demands of parenthood, and sings on most tracks here. Former member Ryan Supola adds piano and trumpet.
Their “indie alternative” moniker includes rock, rap, Latin, country, even a little disco. They toy with rhythm and syncopation facilitated by superb drum work in tandem with the funky thunk of bass. Songwriters McDowell, Gildehaus, and Chavis are terrific singers, too.
The slow-rockin’ title song has breathy, hopeful lyrics underpinned by 10,000 Maniacs-like drum beats. The bluesy, rap-style “That’s What’s Up” starts with live bar sounds and some nifty vocal percussion, then the verses introduce each member with their own rockin’ breaks. Inventive!
On “Young Lover’s Games,” Gildehaus channels Adele-like stylings as her controlled “oh-ohs” slip into falsetto range. Whew! The tempo picks up, crackerjack instrumentals ensue, and the marvelous hook, “we dance,” takes over. Yow!
The ‘60s-sounding “Sunburn” opens “Crocodile Rock”-like, with a gorgeous sax interlude, light and sweeping, and languid lyrics. Abruptly, a Latin-hued rhythm takes over. Fun!
The “Black Devil’s Brigade,” about the first U.S. Special Service Force, is complemented by the military cadence of a snare drum. Made up of American and Canadian soldiers during World War II, it trained at Fort Harrison and beguiled the Germans during the Italian Campaign. McDowell’s great-grandfather, who fought in the unit, survived injury and capture by the Nazis, escaped, and provided valuable intel. It’s a bit of a love story as well. What a chilling, moving piece! There’s so much more here. Check it out!
– Mariss McTucker