Moon Is the New Earth – Rose Hill Drive
On first listen, Rose Hill Drive's sophomore release, Moon is the New Earth, sounds like little more than balls-to-the-wall, hard-as-nails rock. On subsequent listens, one realizes that there is absolutely nothing wrong with balls-to-the-wall, hard-as-nails rock. In a musical landscape that is becoming more and more dominated by wussy indie pop, Rose Hill Drive is ready to remedy this ailment by driving a sledgehammer between your dainty eardrums. Sure, the Boulder power trio wears their influences on their sleeve, and this album is peppered with subtle homages to Jimi Hendrix, The Who, and Led Zeppelin, but this record is no mere classic rock retro exercise. Rather, Moon is the New Earth often sounds as if it were recorded about 15 years ago. It harkens back to a time when young men were allowed to be young men and angst-ridden youths wore flannel shirts and pumped their fists at the sky in a spirit of rebellion.
From the opening strains of "Sneak Out," Rose Hill Drive’s vicious power is readily apparent. Nathan Barnes manhandles his drums in an almost reckless fashion, while Daniel Sproul’s guitar soars over top as Jacob Sproul’s bass rumbles down below. This song is the kind of opener that grabs you by the lapels and demands your attention. Now that you’re in the fold, you can settle in and enjoy the grungy “Altar Junkie,” the pedal-to-the-metal grind of “Trans Am,” the triumphant bombast of “The 8th Wonder,” and the fifth gear of the racing “I’m On To You.” Welcome changes of pace arrive in the form of a couple of acoustic driven but nonetheless intense numbers. Seemingly accented by a cello, “One Night Stand” makes a sly allusion to German oom-pah music, while “Do You Wanna Get High?” nestles into a nice groove. The heaviest track is saved for last, and the finale of “Always Waiting” is a pounding, fist-pumping anthem.
The songs are somewhat lacking lyrically, but I don't know how much depth and wisdom can be expected from three guys age 25 and under who have been rumored to be living their lives on the straight and narrow. Of course, the aforementioned "Do You Wanna Get High?" may either contradict that rumor or serve as a tongue-in-cheek satire of those who are trying to influence these youngsters. I'd prefer the latter is true because if these guys got high and the best lyrics they could come up with are "Do you wanna get high?/I think you might like it/Oh, there's really nothing like it./It really is fantastic./You don't even know, man./Oh, oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh/Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh/Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh," then they really need better drugs. However, when it comes to this kind of hard rocking music, lyrics aren't exactly the most important part. After all, Zeppelin didn't win legions of fans because they sang about prancing hobbits. Nay, their thunderous musical prowess transformed them into Gods of Rock, and hyperbole be dammed, Rose Hill Drive are traveling a very similar path. This band is clearly moving in the right direction, and in trumping their debut release, Moon is the New Earth scorches with an impressive and ferocious intensity.