The Brooklyn-based band The Road To Ruin recently released their album Heartbeat From The Next Step. The band has a full lineup of musicians including Miles Stenhouse (vocals/guitars/keyboards/percussion), Sam Lubin (bass/guitar), Katie Ortiz (vocals) and Erik Sandfort (vocals/ keyboards). It’s a pretty eclectic blend of music that's extremely diverse with two lead vocalists.
The band opens with “She’s A Good Idea.” From the first couple of words Stenhouse uttered I was thinking he sounded like Neil Young. In fact the music sounded like Neil Young when he would rock out. On my second listen the similarities were confirmed in my mind. It’s a catchy song and pretty straightforward.
“Useless” has a distinctly different vibe. Ortiz is on lead vocal and she sings with a sassy inflection with a good amount of attitude. The fuzz bass is the lead instrument here and drives the song. Once I got to the third song “Not All Time Spent Idly Is Wasted” I wasn’t sure where this album was headed. This song contained atmospheric synths and other elements that gave the song an electronic feel. It has a bubbly, synth pop vibe and felt like a different band from the opener which had an American classic rock feel. The song also had a Flaming Lips flavor to it, close to something you might hear on Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots.
Ortiz is back on vocals for “Crossroad Fever.” This is another highlight. The song has atmospheric airy pads and reverb laced guitars. “Glad It Wasn't You” has more of that classic rock feel except it has a couple of synths included in the mix.
As the album progresses there are a number of really good songs that got my attention. “The Freaks Aren't Freaks Anymore” was great. The vocal harmonies are exceptional and rings with a similar essence to “Space Oddity” by David Bowie mixed with some Flaming Lips.
My only minor complaint about this album is that I would have liked the songs to feel more connected to each other in terms of the palette of sounds and aesthetics. A song like “Slow And Easy On The Go” which is an organic sounding sing-along with country/pop vibe sounds significantly different to my ears than a song like “Crossroad Fever.” Sometimes limiting the palette of sounds (this includes reverbs and other productions techniques) a band uses can help an album feel more cohesive. That being said the songs on their own are easily worth the price of admission. I thought every song could stand on its own. The delivery was not only top notch from the vocalists but the songwriting was as well.
Overall, I would say this is their best release so far. The band is evolving and I have a feeling we'll be hearing more from them soon. Recommended.
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