The presence of a band exuding the most basic fundamentals of rock incites fear in mass media across the globe due to the concern that it could be an oversaturation; this fear has led to the ostracizing of quality bands that are capable of inducing pure bliss via the essence that is rock. Therefore, coming across these bands is truly a treasure.

Humble beginnings seeded in the fundamentals of rock, all the way down to the dark and dirty cramped spaces, have inspired Andrea Requirez, Gianlorenzo Mungiovino, Manuel Bellone, Andrea Nocifora, and Vincenzo Matassa to form the Licks. These Italians have my head spinning. Northbound, their 2009 EP, tees up bluesy classic rock and knocks it into the stratosphere with a modern attitude. Throwing on the album I took a second and then a third look to make sure I wasn’t listening to an off-shoot project of Australia’s Jet. I can attest these guys are not affiliated.

Although rock has a language of its own, fear not, these songs are in English, although there is no hiding Matassa’s accent when he belts out each song in a Nic Cester-like voice. The reverberating drums, bass, and guitars echo a 70s rock influence throughout the five tracks. Structurally nodding their caps at the classic rock feel with the chorus bookending slightly distorted guitar solos, this an album that brings a subconscious comfort when you listen to it. It’s heavily rooted in the sounds most of us grew up emulating.

Licks’ formula for their sound leaves nothing to decipher. Wearing their influences on their sleeves, you’re offered up a modern rock album built on the guitar styles of Keith Richards and Joe Perry, bass licks that steer without being dominating, and fundamental bass to snare drumming prompting your foot tapping through the end. This is the harmless pure rock that makes you want to show up in masses to rock the night away live or cruise the town with your window rolled down. Northbound is an album where you know what you’re getting; it isn’t revolutionary but is definitely worth your time.

This sleeper EP came out two years ago and has been a work in progress for longer. Get your hands on this EP, legally, and join me in hoping for much more. Any way you look at it, whether to say you listen to Italian rock or just to claim you got there first, these guys have succeeded.

And this isn’t even a full length album.