Hailing from Yekaterinburg, dubbed the “Third Capital of Russia” the young four-piece band PINE RIDGE delivered their latest LP, Can’t Deny, back in December. Founded in 2014 by a group of History students at Omsk State University, PINE RIDGE’s sound oozes historical blues-rock with 70’s psychedelia and stoner elements thrown into the mix. Whilst the album isn’t necessarily anything particularly new or original, you can tell that it’s not trying to be. PINE RIDGE’s love of American inspired, headbang worthy material is evident right from the get-go and for those of us who love that kind of thing too, it’s difficult to not want to go along for the ride.
The underlying familiarity of the album’s sound is really where it shines. If like me, you’ve been listening to 70’s inspired hard rock music for your whole life, everything about this album is immediately recognisable. The thumping drums, rolling bass lines, and smooth guitar licks are just a few of the elements that drive home this band’s love for what they play. You can hear it in every solo and every chorus that PINE RIDGE enjoys their own music and it’s really quite wonderful. The resulting product is above all else a genuinely fun album, especially for fans of the genre. On my third time listening (and there will be many more) I found myself singing along to the chorus of Someone in your Head and busting out my best air guitar to Runaway all with a huge smile on my face. I really hope I get to see this band live one day because if their shows are half as full of energy as this album, it’ll be money well spent.
I will admit however that I wasn’t hooked from the get-go. The familiarity of the sound does borderline on feeling quite cheesy especially in the title track and opener, Can’t Deny. The lead vocals are so rugged that they wouldn’t be misplaced singing the theme song for a certain show about biker gangs in the USA. Bits of the album do come off like the background music to something rather than existing in their own right which is a danger of the territory. If you are going to throw your sound into something as familiar as heavy blues rock, a genre so saturated at this point, it is difficult to stand out from the crowd and separate what you have from what everybody else has.
However, every single time that I thought I had heard enough, the album threw something at me to keep it fresh and engaging. The eerie cover of Wayfaring Stranger at the mid-point perfectly breaks up the heavy headbanging of the rest of the album and how about the saxophone solo thrown in on Genesis drawing on the psychedelia that is so core to this kind of music. The screaming guitar solos throughout the album explode out of the speakers and whilst those vocals are almost over the top rugged, they are such a joy to listen to.
What Can’t Deny lacks in true originality, it more than makes up for in thundering energy. When it might start to sound a little cheesy, a thumping guitar solo breaks through and put’s a huge smile on your face. This is a labour of love. A fun and energetic celebration of the music PINE RIDGE clearly have such a passion for and boy, did they do it proud.
Words: Alfie Smith
Can’t Deny is out now.
Find PINE RIDGE on Facebook.