Hobo's Codebook reviews
Editor's note: I think indie rock music reviews are funny. Especially the bad ones. There should be reviews of reviews and reviewers in the same manner as the rock music reviews. Like, "Joe Sarcastic's work from Eat My Lunch fanzine reminds me of reviews by Eddie Nitpicker of Skullbraker..." And who are these jokers anyway? I mean seriously. What are the qualifications for being a RECORD REVIEWER? They write about music but rarely even use musical terms. They're just guys with record collections and opinions. Like me! Hey what am I doing playing in a band? I could be a RECORD REVIEWER! Where do I sign up? Anyway, here are the offerings that dribbled in for Hobo's Codebook. By the way, just because they're posted here doesn't necessarily mean that I or anyone else affiliated with ADR agrees or disagrees with the descriptions. Enjoy!


The new album, “Hobo’s Codebook”, was recorded this past year with Chris Forbes manning the boards at the wonderful Diamond Mine studios. I must say from what I’ve heard it’s a really great record with tremendous strides in terms of clarity and, dare I use the musical term, mmmm instrumentation: fiddle, accordion, and organ among other things. Think Richard & Linda Thompson circa “I Want To See the Bright Lights Tonight” , mixed with a guy who also had every Thin Lizzy and Humble Pie record; that may give you an idea.

From the Anyway Records Website, Autumn 2002


Nostalgia is an ugly word, with its connotations of advancing age and stagnation. Nostalgic for the past…the Good Old Days. Like you’ve closed your ears to any music that’s been recorded after your twenty-fifth birthday. I have to say I was somewhat chagrined at how much I was looking forward to playing Hobo’s Codebook, the new release by Appalachian Death Ride on Anyway Records, when I finally got my copy. ADR is a band I used to see in college at Ohio State and lost track of through the years. They hail from Athens, Ohio, about an hour from Columbus. They were always something of an enigma--sometimes heavy, sometimes more or less acoustic--but they were pretty consistently good. When I heard they had a new record out I got excited and became...well…nostalgic. But I needn’t have worried. If anything, ADR has more to offer today then they did way back when.

The 12 tracks here run the gamut of what I remember from a decade ago, from English folk-inflected rock to power pop to just plain rock. There have been some changes in the band through the years, but the spirit is still the same. Memories aside, this is just a flat-out good rock and roll record. This is a tighter, more focused Appalachian Death Ride than the one I used to see in the early 1990s. They’ve grown musically and actually sound better than I remember, which is amazing, really. I mean, let’s face it, that’s not the way it usually happens.

There are a lot of stylistic influences going on. Overall, I’d say the band comes closest to sounding like Full House -era Fairport Convention meets New Day Rising Husker Du, or perhaps like Camper Van Beethoven might’ve if they came from Southern Ohio instead of Northern California and didn’t have an annoying prick like David Lowery singing for them. Vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter Chris Biester sings plainly, but with intensity, no every-syllable-hurts bullshit, just putting it out there where you can feel it—sort of like Phil Lynott, maybe. It really works on the rockers, and it’s especially refreshing on a ballad like “Blackbird Song”—so many singers ruin that type of thing by trying to oversell the lyric, but Biester handles it perfectly. Bill Stamp on bass and C.N. Dillon on drums keep the energy high, playing Entwistle and Moon to Biester’s Townshend on the chorus of the otherwise folksy “The Mission,” kicking the tarantella of “Wedding Coat” into overdrive. But it’s the accordion and banjo of Mike McGovern and violin of Willie Perkins that really separates them from the rest of the competition. Their lines on “The Serpent” wind in an appropriately serpentine fashion around the driving rhythm, giving the song an aura of organic, heavy psychedelia. “The Voodoo Crawl” could’ve been co-written by Tom Waits and the Cramps.

Hobo’s Codebook is a healthy dose of hard folk/rock from a tavern deep in the hills, where the ale is brewed from grains that have started to grow ergot. The musicians in Appalachian Death Ride play at a consistently high level throughout the whole album, but never gratuitously. The songs don’t sound new, they don’t sound old — they have the timeless quality that the great ballads have, that great rock and roll has. The perfect antidote to all the soulless faux rock the corporations keep peddling.

Ted Kane  -  Sponic, Issue 13 - April, 2003


Heute ist St. Patrick´s Day, und hier liegt der passende Soundtrack für diejenigen vor, die es noch nicht in den nächsten Irish Pub geschafft haben.

Schon bei den ersten Klängen wird die Marschrichtung vorgegeben: das Akkordeon setzt ein, die Akustikgitarre perlt dazu und wir befinden uns mitten im Geschehen.

Als ich die CD das erste Mal angesehen habe und auf dem Cover zwei, nun ja, "Wohnungssuchende" mit einer brennenden Mülltonne erblickt habe, wurde mir schon ganz anders. Ein weiterer Blick ins Innere des Booklets offenbarte mir, dass die 5 Herren größtenteils schon lange keine Twens mehr sind. All dies schraubte meine Erwartungen erstmal herunter, da man sonst ja eher CDs junger Punkrockbands in den Händen hält.

Meine Befürchtungen wurden dann aber ganz schnell zerstreut, denn der Folk–Einschlag mit Akkordeon, Geige usw. fügt sich super ins Gesamtbild einer etwas schrammeligen und fest im 90er–Indierock verwurzelten Band ein. Ist der Opener "The Mission" noch eher zum Mitschunkeln denn zum –tanzen geeignet, gehts anschließend etwas flotter und verzerrter zur Sache, und ich muss den Herren auch einige Parallelen zu meiner Lieblingsband Buffalo Tom zugestehen, wenn man mal die Songs ohne Geigengegniedel betrachtet. Die 12 Songs sind abwechslungsreich gestaltet, es gibt mal mehr, mal weniger Folk–Anleihen, und so werden auch Nicht–Fans dieser Musik durchaus auf ihre Kosten kommen.

Diese Platte hat mich sehr positiv überrascht und ich kann sie jedem Fan o.g. Stile nur empfehlen. Hierzulande wird sie wohl leider keine großen Wellen schlagen, da ihre Musik vielen zu unpopulär ist, dafür macht sie umso mehr Spaß.

von: Frank Schmidt
geschrieben am: 17.03.2003
11 PM


Imagine a nice little punky roots country band, complete with fiddle and a strange affection for the 70s. Sorta like a down home Dixie Dregs without all the prog excesses.

Rather, these songs ride home on strummed guitar riffs that remind me of Eleventh Dream Day and Uncle Tupelo. Great anthems, which would be more reminiscent of the former, but that guitar sound is straight outta Still Feel Gone.

Ah, but the layers of distortion and blistering guitar solos are more along the Neil Youngish lines of EDD. Then comes the fiddle and banjo and all that, which makes these boys something original unto themselves.

Which is what I mean to say, anyways. Appalachian Death Ride hails from Chicago, and it plays a fine amalgam of American music. These songs are insistently great. They hook almost immediately and don't let up. A few seconds is all it takes to fall under the spell.

Jon Worley- A&A, issue #240


This is pure real American rock and roll, with one part Springsteen and the other part Dinsaur Jr or Husker Du. Traditional folk rooted songwriting (check out "Sylvia") mixed with dark howling guitar ("Last Lesson"). I once read in Option that Nick Cave could learn a few tricks from these Ohio boys, it'd be a shame if this record goes unnoticed.

By: Nicholas Coe

- - musica.co.uk

customer reviews



Years ago ADR shows were varied and inconsistent enough that I didn't know if I was going to see an Appalachian 60's, neo-hippie, psychedelic band with extended and lingering jams, a loud punkish garage band, and/or some drunk guys playing whatever came up. Not that these styles are all that different; sometimes the variance was from show to show, other times it was from song to song, and yet other times it was within individual tunes. Needless to say, sometimes I enjoyed it, other times I was bored with it and most often I wasn't sure what they were or what to expect.

Well, as far as I can tell, the inconsistency is gone. ADR seems to have mellowed with age into a mature songwriting band. Whether it's a tune including accordion bringing to mind some John Cougar Mellencamp and European folk or a more guitar-based solo Springsteen or Elvis Costello type tune, the songs are either well written and/or kept simple. In short, I found a renewed interest in the band after years of just not caring for the inconsistencies.

- Joel <mailto:joel@cringe.com>



Forget Nick Cave, Appalachian Death Ride have planted a few bad seeds of their own. Hobo's Codebook, their second album in ten years, leaves the nu-punk to the kids and explores the darkened corners of the marriage between Americana folk and impassioned rock. Appalachian Death Ride is like Joe Strummer fronting a wagon train. They have a penchant for gypsy waltzes ("Wedding Coat") with accordion, fiddle and banjo, but aren't above hitting you between the eyes with a few slicing power chords. There's the ballad "Sylvia," the punky "Comin' Around" and the "Desolation Row" update "Nite Lite Alley," all intoned by singer Chris Biester's hoarse pronouncements.

By Brent Hagerman


March 31, 2003


Hobo's Codebook (has) a sound that is solidly anchored into folk music, from the rousing singalong of The Mission to the cajun square dance of Wedding Coat, from the slavic dance of The Voodoo Crawl (a` la Virgin Prunes) to the majestic, martial ballad Johnny Come Lately. But this is more than just an American version of the Pogues and the Mekons: the visceral, relentless bacchanal of The Serpent, and the anthemic, Springsteen-ian rock'n'roll of Comin' Around are blue-collar rock at its best.

--- Piero Scaruffi



ADR is the cure for ADD...you'll have to pay attention to these awesome songs. If Bruce Springsteen was a wicked-indie, rootsy, early-90's club band then he might OPEN for these dudes! Really rich, charming American music.

_ Roctober #35, Spring 2003



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