The thing about country music is that it can seamlessly blend with other genres if done gently. Billy Roberts and The Rough Riders have come from Australia but sound as though they deeply belong in Texas. The scene of a lone rider in the distance, gun on hip and hip on horse is a very fitting image for such a band/ sound, which is why it is the cover of their debut album, The Last of the Originals.
“Walking through the day, dreaming at night”
Billy Roberts comes off as trustworthy because he is confident in his presence and is looking to be nobody other than himself. A similar outlook is best for the listener, because musical connections can be drawn to Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen, and even The Black Keys. That is to say that these Rough Riders enjoy Country guitar, vocal grit, and the Alamo. Looking for catchy pop beats? Go somewhere else, these rough riders are for real.
The Rough Riders include Billy Anderson on piano, Ed Glass on drums, and Billy Roberts on lead guitar and vocals. Although small, this three-piece brings a lot of different influences with it. Roberts has had a difficult time finding artists to share in his passion in Moree Australia, good thing he came to Nashville Tennessee to record with producer Billy Anderson at Cumberland Studios. His country is unlike most and is rather intimate with rock and blues influences. Most of the album has the allure to appeal to those that do not readily listen to country while simultaneously keeping many country fans comfortable.
Surprisingly, the album does not end with the powerfully reminiscent seven-minute track Davey Crockett and the Alamo which shows off how capable the Rough Riders are when it comes to really jamming out. If Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders attempt a follow-up album, this is one track they should focus on channeling the energy of because they could really expand the idea and create a wonderful epic or possibly multi-part story.
With only ten tracks there is a surprising amount to explore here. Just when it seems the Rough Riders have shown their hand, they start a track with violins or a mandolin or something that opens up their sound to even more possibilities. Their sound travels in so many different directions because the Rough Riders don’t stick in any one adventure for too long, they continue toward the horizon to discover even more potential. Even with three different tracks in this article, it fails to capture the expansiveness of The Last of the Originals, which is why all tracks can found at the bandcamp link below.
Ultimately, Roberts is finding his own happiness with little regard for appeasing those with negative views of him, in fact he is happy to say “I wanna be Billy Roberts.” He indeed pulls inspiration from many places openly, but his many loves are the building blocks that create him and his sound. Released August 19, 2014, The Last of the Originals is the debut album from Billy Roberts and the Rough Riders.
Underground Examinations is a series of Independent Music Reviews with the intention of giving new music a fair and appropriate opportunity to be enjoyed.