ATOMIC BLUE – Take the Ride
Take the Ride is a trip back to the seventies, when rock was about protest, love and turning on. A little bit MC5, a smattering of UFO, and a whole lot of Hendrix, the album sounds like a rediscovery of what impact rock can have on a social level and of what sounds can emanate from a Fender guitar. There’s also a dose of the present, both in the way Atomic Blue mixes in some Jon Spencer Blues Explosion elements and in the acoustic-flavored songs like “Cool Hand” and “Hard Times.”
The album starts off with one of the better tracks, “The Stuff,” a funky piece of rock-and-roll with a strong hook in the central riff and in the chorus. “Alcohol and Pentatonic” sounds positively Grand Funk-ish with its promise of “better times ahead.” The title track is a strong and infectious crowd-pleaser, though it runs on a bit too long. The guitars shriek and moan, drummer Ryan Bestul and bassist Leroy Wipperfurth pound out a tribal beat, while the chorus “Bought the ticket / Now take the ride” can be interpreted in various ways. The song ends in a splendid cacophony of electric energy.
Atomic Blue is a three-piece but there is always more than one guitar playing on these tracks. At times a guitar can be heard underscoring the songs with just feedback and dives. Brad Hennig is a very capable guitarist and vocalist and you have to admire his ambition and enthusiasm, but at times there is little room for the songs to breathe and a tendency to fill every space in the music. Some of the lyrics could have used a bit of revision as well but also exemplifies the genuine urgency that Hennig and Atomic Blue bring to their music. This is a powerful trio; Bestul hits the drums as hard as anyone I’ve seen and Hennig is a kick to listen to and quite the showman onstage. As they learn to harness their energy a bit more, their songwriting will undoubtedly have more impact, providing them with a potent foundation that can then detonate in performance.