Friday, January 10, 2020

Archive Review: The V-Roys' Just Add Ice (1996)

The V-Roys' Just Add Ice
Looking on the back of their debut album, Just Add Ice, Knoxville’s V-Roys look like one of those modern martini retro-lounge acts that are all the rage on the coasts. Clad in suit and tie, the band looks like nothing so much as bored advertising executives looking for a few cheap thrills set to a soundtrack of cocktail clatter and cheezy muzak. A closer look at the bar top reveals the truth, however – the guys are slugging back cold Buds, the historic breakfast of barroom rockers and honky tonk heroes. All appearances aside, the V-Roys are a rock ‘n’ roll band, a status easily supported by Just Add Ice.

Raised on rock and hard country up in the hills of East Tennessee, the V-Roys have had the leisure to develop as they please, without the influence of ridiculous trends or peer pressure, a fact highlighted by the songs on Just Add Ice. At times, the band rocks like nobody’s business, the taut guitar line opening “Sooner or Later” leading into a rollicking, defiant song of joyful freedom while “Wind Down” sounds like a 1960s-styled garage band creation, echoed vocals punctuated by a killer guitar riff and an unrelenting mix. “Pounding Heart” is a folkish tale of unrequited love that sports a countryish musical tinge, “Kick Me Around” shows just enough elements of modern rock and historical relevance to earn the band critical accolades and possible commercial acceptance.

Just Add Ice showcases the V-Roys’ diverse and unique musical identity, an inspired hybrid of rock, country, and blues. An enormous debut, Just Add Ice vaults Knoxville light years ahead of Nashville in the intra-state musical rivalry. While far too many bands in the Music City are (still) trying to become the next hard rock heroes, the V-Roys sneak in and grab a label deal, producing a fine album solely on the basis of talent and originality. (E Squared Records, released September 10, 1996)

Review originally published by R Squared music zine, 1996

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