Driver X

Driver X

Super 12

Reel To Reel

Driver X is one among the ever-increasing number of current bands that seem to base their sound on the early indie and garage rock of R.E.M., Sugar, and The Replacements, as well as the elaborate alt-country and Americana of Wilco and The Jayhawks. And like several of those current acts, Driver X come out sounding fresh and vital, suggesting a personal and idiosyncratic approach that marks them out from just about everyone else operating in a similar vein.

Former Idle vocalist Will Croxton is at the heart of this project, being Driver X’s front man and the band’s sole songwriter. But this is a full band project, make no mistakes — studio bands don’t come across in a manner as loose and garage-y as this, as impolite and irreverent towards all and everything. Croxton is developing a unique talent and vision on here, but by the sound of it, it takes the full band both to fulfill his vision and to define it and shape it into something truly out of the ordinary, into something that sets it apart from the Counting Crows and the Wallflowers of the world.

Croxton’s blue-collared, workmanlike material is given a punk-ish spin, reminiscent of Joe Strummer’s uncompromising and deeply personal take on Americana. Driver X plays folksy and subdued rock but they do it with the scope and the horizon of outreaching and wide-open country music. Check out the upbeat and beaten-up opening track “Highway,” or the moody and mellow “Carry Me Home,” a duet with a stunning Florence Dore. The lyrics underline the breadth of the music, with the image-laden and evocative words trading pretentiousness for intellect and silliness for profound honesty.

Despite all the greatness on here, Super 12 is anything but a perfect album. There are several weak moments throughout and songs that sound a bit unrealized and unfocused. Driver X produced this one, and perhaps an outside producer sharing their vision would have been able to bring out an even better album, a more concise and a stronger effort. As it is, this is still a beautiful and intense album with a defined sound and more high points than one can reasonably expect from a debuting band. Not the amazing album they seem to have in them, but pretty damn close. And that is more than good enough for now.

Reel to Reel Records: http://www.reeltoreelrecords.com

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