Review Summary: ‘Small Town Dead’ is a great start to what hopefully will be a long journey for Bleeker Ridge
Native Canadian rockers Bleeker Ridge have been playing music since their early teen years and in 2010 all of their hard work finally paid off when their debut album ‘Small Town Dead’ was released. Bleeker Ridge is made up two sets of brothers from Orillia Canada who pack quite a punch when it comes to their brand of modern rock. After hearing their debut single ‘Small Town Dead’ over a year ago, I finally have had the pleasure of listening to the whole album, which has some extremely high points and some footfalls that nearly all similar bands fall in.
‘Small Town Dead’ is an album that has two sides; one filled with many stellar hard rock tracks and the other featuring some really sub-par songs, saved only by the lead singers amazing vocal display. The first two tracks begin the album at a blistering pace and they make sure they grab your attention by the scruff of the neck. ‘Pick Me Up’ throws the first punch with a heavy driven guitar riff that sounds raw and edgy. The tempo shifts in the chorus as tight drumming and vocals accelerate in what are some fine rocking moments. This sense of energy that is evident on the opener flows straight through to the first single ‘Small Town Dead’, which is one of the best rock songs I’ve heard in years. Slow jagged electric guitar strums build up as the drums and bass enter in a flurry. The upbeat tempo of this song leads into a very infectious chorus that is audibly thick and will make you remember it. Lead singer Taylor Perkins’ powerhouse vocals shine through with the fist pumping chorus in which he boldly exclaims “Oh no, here we go like it never ended, small town had left me dead, I won’t stay for the blame and the broken hearted”. Bleeker Ridge are also quick to offer a softer side to ‘Small Town Dead’ with the first attempt being ‘You Would Have Liked It’. It’s quieter than the others but is still upbeat. Perkins’ vocal delivery makes the lyrics come across as sincere and heartfelt, giving the impression that they really believe in what they are doing as a band.
However even though you can tell Bleeker Ridge are excited about what they are doing, from here on in there are only a few more notable tracks with many sounding solely like filler. Tracks such as ‘Sick Of You’, ‘Sixteen Hours’ and the closer ‘Brother’ are all very infectious and a rocking affair. The remaining tracks on the album are still good to listen to but lacks the effects the stand out tracks have of begging you to repeatedly push the replay button. ‘Sick Of You’ is co-written by Theory Of A Deadman’s lead singer Tyler Connolly and the resemblance is clearly evident. The drumsticks rattle on the edge of a drum to introduce this semi-southern styled influenced rocker. The bass creeps underneath a prominent guitar riff that comes straight out of Theory’s textbook of tricks; a straight up catchy rocker dealing with ending of a relationship. The final section of the album regains composure for what was a slump in the middle of the record and makes sure that ‘Small Town Dead’ goes out on a high with ‘Brother’. ‘Brother’ sees Bleeker Ridge trying something a little different and the risk ultimately pays off. It’s a slower rocker that builds up to a chorus in which lines alternate between an overlayed vocal choir chant and lead singer Taylor Perkins. Piano, tambourine and acoustic guitar all add to the dramatic feel of the song and lift it up into a league of its own. Again Perkins’ voice is so overpowering you completely become absorbed by it and the emotion delivered through it. ‘Brother’ gains some much needed momentum for an epic closing stanza and slowly fades out as the record ends, leaving you wanting more.
If the fear of becoming stagnant in a small town for all their lives has been the influence for these guys to try and attain all their hopes, then hats off to them. It provided them enough inspiration and drive to want to step outside of their boundaries and venture off into the world. ‘Small Town Dead’ is a great start to what hopefully will be a long journey for Bleeker Ridge. Their heavier, raw accomplished modern rock song is a breath of fresh air to anyone who is a fan of the genre.