There seems to be a wealth of new rock coming out of Australia and New Zealand recently and some of the best is from Melbourne based Riff Raiders. Following the release of their first album ‘Live Like You Mean It’ in 2017, with the single of the same name receiving acclaim and worldwide airplay, they toured Australia extensively playing more than 50 shows across the country with key support slots and festival appearances.
By late 2018 they were back in the studio recording the follow up album and the result is Rock ‘n’ Roll Daydream’.
The album opens with the dirty driving rock of ‘Loaded Gun’ which was released as one half of a double A sided single in February 2020 and sets us up nicely for what is to come.
It’s full of guitar riffs as you would imagine and you get an early example of Marty Powell’s lead guitar expertise with a couple of searing solos. It’s a belter to open up with, that is perfect for a summer’s day in the car, windows or roof down and shades on.
We get a little heavier for ‘Stop Looking At Me’ with the twin guitars grinding away from the off alongside the bass and drums, complimented by Jenni Powells measured vocals. There are elements of punk in here too making this a really well crafted track before taking us into the 80’s vibe of ‘Samantha Jones’, which was the lead single taken from the album.
It’s a catchy tune based on a true story about a fan who left a vinyl copy of the bands first album on a train and the woman who found it and got it back to him. There are some classic rock influences here too and a quarter of the way through the album, it’s obvious that those influences are coming in from far and wide – AC/DC, Thin Lizzy, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles and The Darkness to name a few.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEXEDOzjIZk&w=560&h=315]
No Words’ does exactly what it says on the tin – a short instrumental track of just over 1 minute with a slow burning guitar leading us into a thumping drum accompaniment, back to the slow burn and then gone, before we are treated to the frenetic intro for ‘Best Day Ever’, which featured alongside ‘Loaded Gun’ on the double A sided single earlier this year and with it’s punk overtones, feels like 3 minutes of pure summer rock as it bounces along.
Everything slows down for ‘Light’ which gives Jenni Powell a chance to shine and as usual she doesn’t disappoint, leading from the front. In fact, her vocal performance throughout the album is carried off without any strain or drama and fits the musical style perfectly.
The band crank it back up again for ‘When I’m Dreaming’, giving us more twin guitar harmonies and a searing solo, changing tempo half way through the track with a feel for both pop and punk influences.
Marty Powell steps out front to take over the vocal responsibilities for ‘Stepping On A Cloud’ which gives us some nice riffs and has a really infectious power pop vibe about it, reminiscent of Roxette in their heyday before Jenni gives us her most powerful performance on ‘Standing On Her Own’ as she shows us she can belt it out with the best of them, when she needs to. The track moves into heavier territory than previous tracks and shows how versatile and talented each member of the band is as this shifts along at a fair pace.
The gentle intro for penultimate track ‘Sunset To Sunrise’ leads you in as Jenni Powell once again drops down to a soft voice alongside an acoustic guitar, before Ross Hetherington on drums slowly picks up the pace. It’s another example of how adaptable the band are.
The final track on the album is the dramatic ‘Shade’ which finds the band in power ballad mode with Jenni Powell giving her most emotional performance of the album, accompanied by some lovely guitar work which eventually reaches a really cool solo that screams along. It’s a corker to finish the album on.
This is a great album with some well crafted and written songs from Marty Powell, that are superbly executed throughout and there’s not a weak link here. Jenni Powell’s vocals fit perfectly and with the addition of Ron E Smith, Ross Hetherington and Josh King in time for this album, this is a band that is proving there is more to Aussie rock than just AC/DC.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Daydream was released on Silver Sky Records on 30th March 2020.
Stop Looking At Me
Bes Day Ever
When I’m Dreaming
Stepping On A Cloud
Standing On My Own
Sunset To Sunrise
Riff Raiders are:
Jenni Powell Lead Vocals
Marty Powell Lead Guitar, Vocals ‘Stepping On A Cloud’
Josh King Additional Guitars, backing vocals
Ross Hetherington Drums
Ron E. Smith Bass
Reviewed by : Howard Whitelaw for MPM