The debut album from Orange County, California’s own Hell or Highwater is a solid slab of All-American made rock and roll. The new project from Atreyu front man Brandon Saller boasts a sound that is obviously different from what Atreyu put out. But it is still a good solid record that true hardcore fans will enjoy and appreciate. It will be just as appreciated and enjoyed by fans of the likes of Black Stone Cherry and others of that ilk. Saller and his band mates make quite the first impression with this debut in the album’s opener, ‘Gimme Love.’ The way this song is written, it comes across as a musical love letter to a woman. Rather than being another one of those songs that goes on about the difficulties of life on the road, Saller sings that he knows it’s tough loving a musician. But at the same time, the figure in the song has every intention of being with said love interest. He makes this clear in the song’s opening verse singing, “It’s hard/Living loving a music man/I’m not a saint/And I make mistakes/But I’m just doing the best I can/These lonely days/Are coming to an end my dear/Future’s on fire/It’s burning brighter than ever before. He goes on to sing his declaration of love for his woman even though he knows he’s not perfect, “Baby I swear this love is true/Darling I do this all for you.” The poppy-up tempo music backing these heartfelt yet not too sappy lyrics make for a solid opening for the band’s first full length effort. The enjoyment doesn’t end here. From here, audiences are offered a whole baker’s dozen count of songs from which to choose their favorites. Just one other example of what audiences have to look forward to in that mass of songs is ‘When The Morning Comes.’
‘When The Morning Comes’ succeeds for the same reason as the album’s opener. Both musically and lyrically, it’s one of those uplifting songs that will leave any listener feeling good. Saller sings of feeling emotions and thinking thoughts that we’ve all thought before, but despite all of it, having the strength to push on. He sings that he’ll be better “when the morning comes” and to “forget yesterday/Today’s mine!” It’s a not so metaphorical way of saying, “I’ll make it through the night. No matter how bad things get, I’ve got my family and my friends and they give me strength.” The song’s music helps to illustrate that positive vibe, too. Its up-tempo guitar riffs and major chords combine with the optimistic lyrical side to make for a song that will easily become a fan favorite both on the album and on the road if it isn’t already a live favorite. The band keeps that same positive vibe from here as it transitions into ‘Crash & Burn.’
‘Crash & Burn’ is just as impressive as ‘When The Morning Comes’ as it carries that same sense of knowing how tough life is but it’s not too tough to handle. Saller makes that clear as he sings, “Live for the chase/Survive by the thrill/If you want me to take this step/I will/No longer afraid/No longer at bay/Longing to face my fears but still/A promise is made/To change who I am/No looking back/We’ll fight to the end/A promise in vain/Is a promise to break/Your life is only yours to make. Again, there is that openly positive vibe that so much of today’s rock music needs, in place of the constant shoe-gazer, “oh poor me” mentality that is thrown out by so many bands. Add in equally uplifting musical backing by the band and this song becomes just one more of so many highlights from this album. It clocks in at just over three minutes long. In that three minutes plus, it shows that it’s possible to be positive and still rock out. And combined with the album’s other material it helps to make this album an early contender to be one of the year’s best general rock records.
Begin Again will be available in stores and online beginning February 5th. As everybody counts down the days to the release of the band’s debut, the band is touring in support of it. The band will be performing tonight, January 8th, in Mobile, Alabama. It follows up tonight’s show with a pair of performance in Florida Thursday and Friday respectively. There are even more dates planned after these shows. To get a full listing of tour dates, fans can go online to the band’s Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/HellorHighwaterofficial . Fans can also get the band’s tour dates, full album lyrics and even more on the band’s official website, http://www.HellorHighwaterofficial.com. And for all the latest news from the band, fans can follow its members on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HellOrHighwater.
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