Ruben Hoeke Band - 'Loaded'

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Ruben Hoeke Band - 'Loaded'

There wasn't much to shout about here for me.

Hailing from the Netherlands, Ruben Hoeke formed his own band in 2004, releasing the debut album 'Sugar' in 2006 and the follow up 'Coexist' in 2010. After playing the Heineken Music Hall with the likes of Jan Akkerman and Gary Moore, the Ruben Hoeke Band are back with 'Loaded'.

'High On The Bottle' is a great start, with some excellent blues rock riffing from Ruben, backed by Paul Brandsen on bass and Arjen Knapp on drums. Vocalist Frank van Pardo has a gravelly voice which suits the track and everything is going great guns.

'Gone But Not Forgotten' doesn't manage to meet the standard set by its predecessor, starting off with a gentle verse which I feel van Pardo struggles with. The chorus is better but not great. The abysmally titled 'Crazy Mama' is more straight ahead boogie fare, harking back to ZZ Top or early Aerosmith, hampered slightly by the clunky lyrics. 'Love And Emotion' is an attempt at a power ballad, which feels laboured and van Pardo strains his way through, grating on me.

The noisy 'Is There A Heaven, Is There A Hell' is another example of the vocals not quite cutting it for me, and that sets the tone for the full record. For every decent riff or solo that appears, they are counterbalanced by a lack of a hook, a dull chorus or some lead vocals which don't quite make the grade. Lyrically there are problems too – granted these guys sing English way better than I speak Dutch, but residents of the Netherlands writing lyrics for a blues-rocker called 'Mississippi BBQ' (including the line 'it's finger lickin' good') is always going to sound as authentic as a Chinese Elvis impersonator.

There wasn't much to shout about here for me – Hoeke may well be as good as the numerous press clippings that came with my album claim, but I don't think the material or the band on this record are good enough to let him prove it.

James Gaden

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