CD REVIEW: Dashdown - Rock & Roll Vacation
By: Cyrus Rhodes
"Feel Good Groove"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST -
Rock, Blues, Indie- Rock
Chicago native rocker Dave Ashdown is no stranger to the Music Business having been in several bands over the past 20 years. Having recently moves to New Jersey Dave Ashdown now Dashdown releases his first solo effort entitled Rock & Roll Vacation in 2010. Another cool thing - this CD was also produced by Dave's brother Rich.
The CD kicks things off with “Don’t Know what I want” a hard rocking intro piece that lets it all hang out with hard rocking guitar, driving rock rhythm & heavy jam band feel. This first track pretty much hits it out of the park & definitely gets the blood pumping. Track 2 “We Gotta Fix It” dishes out hooky beat, upbeat Americana rock groove with infectious bluesy-rock melody that flows & ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. I especially like the message & thought provoking lyrical content on this track. Track 3 “Time Out” dishes out yet another solid track with its slamming groove, grand slam chorus & hooky vocal delivery by Ashdown. The CD makes a solid first impression dishing out 3 rock solid songs in a row. As the CD unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of classic Joe Walsh, Tom Petty, Smithereens, George Thoroughood, & even brief splashes of Kiss, Rolling Stones, Social Distortion & even Beck. Right from the start you will notice Ashdown & company feel quite comfortable just letting it all hang out musically, not holding anything back. The overall musical vibe has a full tilt rocking & raw indie feel to it. The bands playing is rock solid across the board as they dish out impressive bluesy guitar licks, & rock solid rhythm guitar playing. Equally as impressive is Ashdown’s vocal presence as he fit's into this raw but heavy sound perfectly. Ashdown’s got the voice & plays guitar well. If he just so happened to write all these songs – well that pretty much makes him a musical triple threat. The musicianship from all the other members in the band is pretty solid. The songs themselves are short & sweet musical experiences, each one possessing unique personality, flair, & signature groove in classic Jam Band fashion. From rocking “Calling All Cars” “Chick from Outer Space” & “Roxy Du Jour” to infectious “Blood for Breakfast” to slithering “Love You” this CD has something for just about everyone. Ashdown’s best pieces are the feel good acoustic pieces “She Comes s She Goes” “Made in the Shade” & the title track where he just lets it all hang out “ The CD ends with “N.S.B.” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this.
The overall mix of this CD is not what I would call legendary. It’s all over the place & at times lacks true dynamic & depth. Getting more specific the quality of the drum recordings has much room for improvement. As a result a few of the songs sound a bit flat & one sided. In 2011 the bar is set high for artists like Ashdown with respect to their production value. This mix has all the trademarks of an amateur basement mix job from start to finish. I see Independent Artists make this mistake over & over again. If the music wasn’t recorded or mixed properly - it really doesn’t matter how good your mastering Engineer is. However I will add that because the songs themselves are so well crafted, this issue is somewhat transparent as Dashdown makes up for it with other strengths & manages to make his point via the raw indie-type production. As a listener I remained entertained the entire time. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.
Rock & Roll Vacation is a solid CD from start to finish. Song for song, note for note it just flows extremely well. It's definitely got the feel good groove - dead in the pocket. It’s strong suit – the song for song rock solid consistency & amazing vocal presence of lead singer Dave Ashdown. Like the aforementioned he is a musical triple threat & should be considered a premier talent. If Dashdown has a slam dunk live presentation then that would make a pretty lethal combination. No doubt they are a lot of fun to check out live. So if you like college alternative rock that dishes out bluesy type ditties that bite hard then you should jump into this CD head first.