February 7, 2013

"Just a Ride," by The Virginmarys

So I'm giving this blog some direction, and what better way to do so than with one of my passions: music. The new goal is to educate people on one of the best kept secrets of iTunes. Often overlooked, but oh-so-valuable, are the weekly free downloads, released each and every Tuesday on the iTunes Store. Now, Apple also releases trailers, television previews, books, apps, and all sorts of other goodies every week, but for the purpose of this blog, I only care about the indie tracks they put up for glorious free download.

Without further ado...

This week's free download is a package deal: a heavy, rockin' single and a stripped down interpretation of the same. The song is "Just a Ride" by The Virginmarys, a three-piece rock outfit hailing from jolly ol' England.

Watch your volume setting when you press play. And for your sake I hope you don't have earphones in. This track starts out awful heavy, receding to let us hear Ally Dickaty, lead singer and guitarist, in the first verse. This song's a little abrasive for my musical palette, but it certainly is a head knocker. The high energy keeps me listening and engaged from beginning to end as we hear the story of a fling gone wrong when the gent gets too attached. The chorus is especially nice: a keen ear will hear the speedy bass licks thrown out by Matt Rose, and the rich harmonies sailing over Ally's gritty voice. Between the grainy, not-quite-screaming lead vocals and the heavy guitar work and drums, The Virginmarys have a kind of Foo Fighters vibe in this track.

But as I mentioned, the Virginmarys released a twofer this week!

Note: this track isn't truly acoustic, but it gives the impression of a mellow studio jam. I am immediately struck by how beautiful the guitars sound strumming out those chords, and they do an excellent job of maintaining the same, driving feel of the piece without drums. Without the squealing electric guitar and cacophony of drums, you can really hear the beautiful harmonies over the chorus, and between the acoustic feel and the English accent, suddenly this heavy rock group sounds a lot more like Mumford and Sons than I ever would've imagined possible.

My only complaint about the stripped down track is that the mix has Ally's vocals front and center in an oppressive sort of way. That one complaint aside, I really like this track. The lyrics are engaging and powerful:

"The golden girl, the silver spoon, the eyes like pearls that wept too soon...Wait for time to heal my pride but time was never on my side."

And the instrumentals are top notch to boot. I wouldn't label it my new favorite song, but this stripped down version is certainly making its way on to my iPhone. I look forward to the release of their new album, "King of Conflict", later this month. All in all, I rank "Just a Ride"...

3 1/2 out of 5.

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