On his debut solo EP South Mountain Ritual, vocalist-guitarist Ross Huber embraces a leaner and grittier sound that swirls with country, folk, rock and a pinch of blues -- a significant departure from the bombastic power-pop crunch he has been meticulously cultivating as a member of Allentown's Summer Scouts.
Huber, who released the album on July 7 under the moniker Hill Climb Music, said during a recent phone interview that recording a solo album was an itch he had been wanting to scratch for quite some time.
"A lot of these riffs are recycled from bands from my early 20s when I was in college," Huber said during a recent phone interview. "But, like every one of my projects, it gets shelved for years on end and sits on my hard drive."
Huber said he recently came across the demo tracks in the midst of post-production work on Summer Scouts' forthcoming album and decided to take another crack at the songs. He was surprised to find that the music still held up despite the time that had passed.
With a rediscovered batch of fresh tunes, Huber was adamant about recording all of the instrumentation himself. The result is an acoustic-minded, sonically-pleasing record that leans more toward the rustic, dirty boogie of Days of the New than the polished pop of Neon Trees.
"Practicing with Summer Scouts, my thought was I think I can do this on a very elementary level. I always wanted to be self-sufficient," Huber said. "For the longest time, I pigeonholed myself writing arbitrary lyrics. When it's just you and a guitar, the lyrics have to be heartfelt and truthful."
In the up-tempo, foot-stomping single "Young Man," Huber bellows, "I ain't no young man anymore, I ain't your man no more, that's for sure." "(The song) is about being broke; I couldn't find a job after college," Huber said. "Probably aside from handful of songs I wrote lyrics for Summer Scouts, this is a little more heartfelt, a little more personal."
Huber is enjoying the intimacy of his new side project. "To constantly be under that scrutiny and push yourself (with Summer Scouts), it's nice to have a project to take out to an open mic and do a show that's just me and a kick tamborine," Huber said.
Fans of Summer Scouts need not to worry. Huber is still happily with the band and is excited for fans to hear the quintet's new record. "I kind of need both ends of the spectrum, the big pop rock sound and the noodling, showcasing your guitar style," Huber said. "A lot of friends who watched me play over the years will definitely find some interesting guitar sounds on the album."
Since their formation in 2014, Summer Scouts have released two EPs and the full-length LP, Furthest Reach. In August 2017, Summer Scouts opened for Grammy Award-winning country music act The Band Perry at Musikest in Bethlehem.