However, as promising as Cast The First Stone seemed to be, it's the new EP, Just A Ride, that pushes The Virginmarys from a casual enjoyment to everything that a new rock band, even with a few vintage undertones, can sound like.
And that sound is big, surprisingly so from a three-member lineup. It's also the sound of a band that learned a few things after being on the road for the better part of a year.
One chance discovery put The Virginmarys on pace.
Shortly after the band came together two years ago, producer Toby Jepson (ex-frontman of Little Angels) happened to catch one of their live shows around the Manchester area. He was so taken by the band he helped them press their first EP at Chappel Studios, Lincolnshire in just three months from when they say they were founded.
The next well known they won over was Mike Fraser, who offered to mix the album. Classic Rock magazine even took a listen and called them one of the “Top 20 bands to watch for 2010.” Unfortunately, for whatever reason, not everyone was ready embrace the next Led Zeppelin (as some reviewers called them, an accidental kiss of death).
They are not Led Zeppelin by any stretch. But Ally Dickaty (vocals/guitars), Matt Rose (bass/vocals), and Danny Dolan (drums) do have more under the hood. Their new lineup features three gritty, fast-paced songs and one unpolished ballad.
Just A Ride is the first of four tracks that helps move The Virginmarys away from the classic rock moniker and toward something fresher, with a well-baked attitude that plays well on stage as people are taken in by Dickaty's guttural voice, especially when he is joined by the gruff-sounding Rose. Hearing them would convince some people they are ten years old, not two years new.
Then, add to all the energy delivered by Dickaty and Rose a drummer who is anything but in the background. Dolan puts more power into every beat than most percussionists, with his set frequently positioned further downstage than many bands. He is a sight to watch in his own right.
What makes Just A Ride even better is the added near-punk progressive aggression. There's more here than blues, psychedelic riffs, and heavy bass lines inside In The City and My Little Girl. And Stripped just proves the versatility of the band as they knock it all back into a folksy sad-saddled lament.
Just A Ride By The Virginmarys Rattles With A 9.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
If The Virginmarys can escape the stigma of being a throwback band, they just might live up to the hefty expectations of a few enthusiastic reviews last year. As a three-piece band, they clearly have the chops and momentum on their side. Now all they need to find are a few more introductions to a younger audience.
Just A Ride can be downloaded from iTunes. The new LP that replaced the EP can also be found on Amazon. Currently, the band is touring the United Kingdom. Signing up for the Townsend Records mailing list from The Virginmarys website earns you three more unreleased tracks, including China Girl, Portrait Of Red, and Thousand Times. The latter is worth it.