WARNER DRIVE

"City of Angels" (Cyber Tracks; 2014)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

A lot has changed for Warner Drive since we reviewed their "Fully Loaded" CD way back in 2006. The good news is that the band is still out there, touring like motherfuckers (up to about 200 dates a year), and that they recently signed to a record label, Cyber Tracks, and you know what that means! We've finally got some new music from the band.

The other news (I won't say "bad news" because that isn't the case) is that this is an almost entirely different Warner Drive than the band that recorded the recordings below. With the exception of the irreplaceable Jonathan Jonah (or Jonny Law), this is an entirely new line-up. When a band replaces 75% of its personnel you can be sure there are some changes in their sound and I will admit, I was concerned that the jettison of the previous band members would spell doom for the band.  Thankfully, "City of Angels" proves that isn't the case.

"City of Angels" is ten tracks of solid, melodic rockers with driving rhythms and chunky guitar. Like the band's previous CDs, it's instantly addictive material and you'll be hard pressed not to find yourself singing along even during the first listen. Every track benefits from the vocal gymnastics of band leader Jonah, whose dynamic style drives each song as much as the guitars or any other instrument does.

So what are those differences we mentioned earlier? Well, the lyrics are a little more serious, telling tales of love and empowerment. And there's a track about the West Memphis Three. The lyrics are deeper and more adult, without question, but I can't help but miss songs with a little more humor, like the band's legendary "The Shocker."

Another difference, albeit a minor one, is that "City of Angels" doesn't have quite the edge that the band's previous albums did, perhaps due to it being produced by Aaron 'El Hefe' Abeyta of NOFX, rather than Guns N'Roses' Mike Clink (although it was mixed by Ryan Greene who has worked with Megadeth and Metallica so who the hell knows?). Regardless, "City of Angels" has enough of its own edge and kicks ass from first track to last.

We've been singing the praises of Warner Drive for more than a few years here at RoughEdge.com, and I'm pleased to say that the band shows no signs of slowing down. Catch their incredible live show and see if you don't agree!

Warner Drive: Jonny Law – Vocals; Ryan Harris – Guitar; Candice Levinson – Guitar; Elvis James – Bass; Jonny U – Drums.

For more information, check out http://www.warnerdrive.com or http://www.myspace.com/warnerdrive.  

"Fully Loaded" (Rancho Relaxo; 2006)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

As I expected from their "The Shocker" EP (reviewed below), Warner Drive's full-length CD, "Fully Loaded," is ... well, fully loaded

The first time I heard Warner Drive (when they were known as FL), I knew this band was special. Their live performance at the Warped Tour won me over instantly, and the only problem with their first CD ("What Does That Stand For?") was that it left me wanting more ... now.

You remember the first time you heard Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction"? Or Metallica's black album? I do. In both cases, I felt something immediately, something that told me those bands had gone beyond the pale and had discovered ... no, created ... something that was fresh and familiar at the same time. Something that became one of my favorites from the very first listen. I know it's a cliché to say it but that's what Warner Drive's "Fully Loaded" does for me. 

The band is nowhere near as heavy as Metallica or even GNR for that matter. Warner Drive falls, as I've said before, somewhere between Sammy Hagar and Cheap Trick with a punk rock attitude, a metal edge and a welcome sense of humor that gives them a sound all their own. Songs like "Life" and "Price Check on Aisle 5 For Love" will rock you hard and make you laugh out loud while you nod your head in understanding sympathy because you've been there, done that. The ode to the "Viper Room" is a rock anthem if there ever was one while "Broken" is a poignant and mature ballad. "The Shocker" will give you a dirty little smirk and make you shake your head in embarrassed disbelief.

The production here, by Mike Clink (of GNR fame) and James Michael is crisp, clear and retains all of the band's live performance power. I said in an earlier review that I thought "All By Myself" lost a little of its original impact on the EP that preceded this full-length CD but I don't hear that now. Either the song's been remixed or I was mistaken because it all sounds great now.

There are only two problems I see with "Fully Loaded': 1) Even with twelve full tracks here, I already want to hear more new Warner Drive songs and 2) As good as this CD is (and it's freaking great), it's not as strong as the band's live performance. There's no way it could be. If Warner Drive comes to your town, do not miss their live show.

Warner Drive's "Fully Loaded" hasn't left my CD changer since I bought it at their show in Ventura and I don't see it being ejected any time soon.

Warner Drive: Jonathan Jonah - vocals, guitar; Chris Koushayan - guitar; Peter Crowner - bass; Matthew Shapiro - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.warnerdrive.com or http://www.myspace.com/warnerdrive.  

"Fully Loaded" (Rancho Relaxo; 2006)

Reviewed by Snidermann

Warner Drive (formerly known as FL and Fully Loaded) has done it again with their full length release, "Fully Loaded." This CD is pure rock'n'roll at its very best. 

Editor R. Scott Bolton and I discovered this band a few years ago while strolling the side stages at Van's Warped Tour and we have followed them ever since. Not only are these guys very talented musicians, they are excellent showman. They recently played in our home town of Ventura, CA and they were incredible.

The music throughout is top notch rock'n'roll and "Fully Loaded" was produced by Mike Clink (who also produced Guns N' Roses' "Appetite for Destruction." 

As expected, the entire project is excellent and I think once you hear "Fully Loaded," you'll be keeping track of the band like we do!

Warner Drive: Jonathan Jonah - vocals, guitar; Chris Koushayan - guitar; Peter Crowner - bass; Matthew Shapiro - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.warnerdrive.com or http://www.myspace.com/warnerdrive.  

"The Shocker" (Rancho Relaxo Records; 2005)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Warner Drive (formerly known as FL or, briefly, as Fully Loaded) return with this limited edition, six song teaser from their forthcoming full-length CD. Some of the songs herein appeared on the band's earlier CD, "What Does That Stand For?" but have been re-recorded here with legendary producer Mike Clink (Guns N'Roses) behind the production console with James Michael. The result is that the three songs re-appearing here ("Life, " "All by Myself" and "Gone Away") sound fuller and richer here than they did on the earlier CD. More often than not, that's a good thing, although I think "All By Myself" loses a little of its edgy impact here. 

The new songs include the energetic "Calling You," the irresistibly riffed "Livin' It Up," and perhaps the band's most requested live song, the raunchy "The Shocker." As with the previous CD, the songs on "The Shocker" are lively hard rock that might fall somewhere between Cheap Trick and Sammy Hagar. The songwriting here is pop perfect, with the band delivering songs that are radio friendly without ever selling out their soul. Musically, that is. Lyrically ... well, let's just say that the raunchy title track is unlikely to get much broadcast airplay.

With "The Shocker," Warner Drive continue to impress with their unmatched energy, solid talent, intelligent lyrics and their ability to enjoy themselves while they do it. Personally, I can't wait for the full-length CD and I'm hoping that ... when it's done ... it'll be released by a major record label because this band deserves national recognition.

Warner Drive: Jonathan Jonah - vocals, guitar; Chris Koushayan - guitar; Peter Crowner - bass; Matthew Shapiro - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.warnerdrive.com or http://www.myspace.com/warnerdrive.  

"The Shocker" (Rancho Relaxo Records; 2005)

Reviewed by Snidermann

A few years ago, R. Scott and I were at the Warped Tour and we were checking out some of the side bands and we came across FL (who have changed their name and are now known as Warner Drive). If you've read our review of the Warped Tour that year (and you can do so by clicking here), you know we were hooked.

Since then, we have waited patiently for the band's follow-up to "What Does that Stand For?" Finally, the wait is over.

"The Shocker" is produced by the legendary Mike Clink and he has captured Warner Drive at what they do best: Having fun. This six track EP shares the energy and humor levels of the band's live shows and their live show is great. The music here is a solid mix of good old fashioned rock'n'roll and punk. 

Warner Drive's "The Shocker" proves once again this band has undeniable talent but they're musicians because it's fun and you can tell they love it. The beauty here is that you'll love it, too.

Warner Drive: Jonathan Jonah - vocals, guitar; Chris Koushayan - guitar; Peter Crowner - bass; Matthew Shapiro - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.warnerdrive.com or http://www.myspace.com/warnerdrive.  

"What Does That Stand For?" (Rancho Relaxo Records; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

When we hit the Ventura, CA edition of the Warped Tour this year, FL were the highlight of the day. (The band has since changed their name to Warner Drive). The band played on one of those postage stamp stages nearly hidden beside the twin airplane hangars / exhibit halls that are the center of Seaside Park. If we hadn't been constantly moving, we would have missed them and that would have been a shame.

When the band began, there were only a handful of people in front of the stage; when they finished there was many, many more. 

The back of the band's CD, "What Does That Stand For?" describes FL's music as "up tempo, melodic, hard rock'n'roll with a punk edge and a whole lotta soul." There's not much more I can tell you about the band's sound than that. The nine songs on the CD are all lively, tight rockers with lots of fast, melodic guitar, intense vocals, dynamic rhythms and lyrics that are sometimes funny, sometimes poignant but always solid. As talented as the entire band is musically (and they are all extremely talented) it's really the songwriting that's the star here. "What Does That Stand For?" has a higher percentage of well-written songs than any release in recent memory. Every single song shines on its own and every song has the potential to be a hit (with the obvious exception of the hidden track, "Fuck You 'cause Now I Fucked Her, Too" which ain't gonna get radio airplay anywhere ... okay, except maybe on XM, Sirius or Rough Edge Radio).

In fact, the only disappointment about this record is that it's only nine songs and less than 30 minutes long. The band has more material - we heard "The Shocker" and "I Wanna Play the Viper Room" at the Warped Tour show - and I wanted to hear the recorded versions soon after seeing the band live. Hopefully, judging from the band's charismatic live performance and the energy contained on "What Does That Stand For," it won't be long before they're recording again.

FL: Jonathan Jonah - vocals, guitar; Chris Koushayan - guitar; Peter Crowner - bass; Matt Shapiro - drums.

For more information, check out http://www.warnerdrive.com or http://www.myspace.com/warnerdrive.  

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Revised: 08 Oct 2017 14:52:20 -0400.