Review: The Driver Era Enter a New Age with Debut Album, ‘X’

X - The Driver Era
The Driver Era will not be put into a box with debut album ‘X’.

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X - The Driver Era

X – The Driver Era

People are so quick to categorize music. To place bands into genres and leave them a bucket. However, that’s never been what music is about. Music has always been about stretching creativity, saying something in a way that no one has said it before and creating a feeling with only sounds and words. Musicians and bands can be guilty of it too. They stick to their “genre” and don’t stretch the boundaries, because, why would they?

The Driver Era, made up of brothers Rocky and Ross Lynch, do nothing of the sort. Their debut album X bridges soul, funk, and pop with a strong rock undertone, but it cannot be defined as one or the other. The best way to describe this album? Depth. The amount of depth in each song is as surprising as it is delightful. The Driver Era are creating music the way it was meant to be created, exactly how they wanted to make it with no boundaries and no boxes. This is ever-present with X a graduation from their early years in the mega pop group R5, Rocky and Ross are defining their new era.

The Driver Era © Anna Lee

The Driver Era © Anna Lee

Welcome to The End of Your Life” is the perfect introduction to X. It acutely demonstrates the musical depths they are able to find in just a single track, while simultaneously introducing the positive vibrato they embody with lyrics that encourage seizing the day. Ross’s smooth and confident vocals glide in with nothing but a silky guitar lick. Slowly, low synth sounds, and edgy harmonies join in as the song swiftly transitions in and out of face smacking rock to melodic popping bop.

The album continues with a brighter slightly psychedelic pop-tune, “Nobody Knows.” While keeping the rock undertone, the track definitely sways into, and introducing the pop realm of The Driver Era. “Nobody Knows” is meant to be danced to with the volume all the way up.

Nobody knows she likes to dance like mad man

Scared of Heights” is the heartbreak anthem of X. We can all relate to the in-between of a relationship. The feeling of being mad at yourself for not being able to commit, but also feeling the relief of not being tied to one person.

I’m never satisfied, keep my feelings on the side,
Getting high until I fly, but now I’m scared of heights
The Driver Era © Anna Lee

The Driver Era © Anna Lee

The melodies in this track are the tasty and delightful, delivering the message that freedom and loneliness are sometimes synonymous, and even though that can feel heartbreaking at times, it can also be liberating and incredibly enjoyable.

Feel You Now,” a single that dropped earlier this year, has that John Hughes, play-as-the-credits-roll, iconic feeling to it. With surprising musical elements like horns leading from chorus to verse and distorted vocals juxtaposed with bright guitar chords, this song is anything but simple. “Feel You Now,” has levels of depth and encourages you to sing and dance along to your heart’s desire, themes that seem to be ever-present in X.

Watch: “Feel You Now” – The Driver Era

After the epic “Feel You Now,” The Driver Era slow it down with “San Francisco,” a poignantly placed transition to the latter half of the album.  It recounts a feeling, a time or a person in life that is missed. It’s that moment, wherever it was and whomever it was with, that we all daydream about reliving. “San Francisco” hypnotically lets you relive it.

Low,” which was actually released in 2018 made its way to the debut X and we’re so happy it did. “Low” really brings out the soul of the album. The low licks of the music allow you to sway along to the sexy and all-too-real lyrics. We all have those people in our life who we would do things for that we wouldn’t ordinarily do for others. There’s something daring and enticing about that person and that feeling. The feeling of knowing that while what you’re doing is not entirely right, it’s not entirely wrong either. The soul funk vibe of “Low” is that feeling.

Watch: “Low” – The Driver Era

Natural” progresses with the soulful energy that “Low” introduced. The bass line takes the funk one step further while the high synth harmonies create a sound unique of its own. “Natural” cannot be put into a bucket, but somehow it fits so effortlessly into X. It’s the sound of The Driver Era, the sound that cannot be defined.

Afterglow” brings X to an end. A bright pop-rock bop with a twinge of funk to close it out. Delightful guitar licks and happily confident melodies guide us through a song that is only meant to make the listeners feel good. A theme that, again, has been a common thread throughout X. “Afterglow” transports you to that time you fell in love, and it makes you want to go to the beach, dance all night and fall in love all over again.

X does what debut albums are supposed to do. It perfectly introduces The Driver Era for who they are – and seemingly, it’s a group that can’t be defined. Are they rock? Soul? Funk? Pop? The answer is yes, to all, which is what makes “X” a welcomed anomaly in music in 2019. It’s a new era, it’s The Driver Era.

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X - The Driver Era

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Kelly has been with Atwood since its earliest days in 2014. She is originally from Pittsburgh, PA, now based in New Orleans, LA and has been singing, writing, playing guitar and piano for almost all of her life. Music drives everything she does. She brings her unique perspective with each piece, always open to discovering something or someone new.