- 1 WHEAT
- 2 DOUG MACDONALD BAND
- 3 RICHIE PARSONS
- 4 DAVID GREENBERGER & THE PAHLTONE SCOOTERS
- 5 WILLARD GRANT CONSPIRACY
- 6 BIG OL’ DIRTY BUCKET
- 7 DOCTOR X
- 8 ROTATING STRAWBERRY MADONNA
- 9 LADY RAY
- 10 ONSLO
- 11 HEAVY NECKER
- 12 SLANT OF LIGHT
- 13 JAY DiBIASIO
- 14 RYE PINES
- 15 BEDROOM EYES
- 16 LLOYD’S LLAMAS
- 17 JOHNNY FURY
- 18 SLEEP CRIMES
- 19 GEORGE McCANN
- 20 DAVID CARRADINE
- 21 BUNDLES
- 22 HOLD/TRANSFER
- 23 DAN BLAKESLEE
- 24 METAL PISTOLS
- 25 Related
Wishing Good Things for the World
Wheat has been a victim of circumstance since its inception, really. An alt-pop band with enormous commercial potential, they bubbled to the surface in the late ’90s to considerable critical acclaim, landing a few choice soundtrack gigs and substantial left-of-the-dial radio airplay. But then the music industry imploded, their CDs were bulldozed into landfills, and Wheat was left floating like radio-ready ghosts through barren indie-rock back alleys ever since. But they’re not complaining. Just the opposite, in fact. The Wishing Good Things For the World EP is the opening salvo in a full-frontal media assault from Wheat, to be followed by a feature-length documentary on the band and their first LP in five years. It’s a quietly triumphant clutch of songs that expand on Wheat’s mellow-but-upbeat radio pop, incorporating Flaming Lips-esque lite-psych and, in the case of the epic title track, a thoroughly Eno-worthy exploration into digital pocket symphonies. Tracks like opener “Rescue” and the dreamy “C’mon Song” float weightlessly in the ether, pleasant hazy daydreams of blissful summer days in 1997 when we were all young and optimistic and turning on the radio was like diving into a warm pool of golden light. I mean, make no mistake, we’re all gonna die, probably sooner than you think, but Wishing Good Things will at least let you forget that for a few minutes. (Sleazegrinder)
DOUG MACDONALD BAND
There’s a feeling of urgency within this two-pieces band’s CD when it breaks out with “Misunderstood Man”: Patty Short’s drums, EQed heavy midrange with no bottom, rock for two measures then get sucked though a time portal where the full-audio-range kicks in. A single distorted guitar line enters, followed by Doug MacDonald’s distinctive high-pitched vocals (think of an energized Neil Young fronting a garage band). The song is about a disliked nonconformist who moves ahead in his life despite what goes on around him. This one may have some have a hidden autobiographical nature to it. In “No Fighting,” guitarist/vocalist Doug MacDonald has his say against the way people treat each other. It’s got a great chorus that could be sung to kids in a sandbox, an abusive husband, or two nations up in arms against each other. “Moving On” is lyrically potent with the singer searching for a woman that can ease the pain from his previous relationship. Dual Speaker closes with “Rock And Crumble”—Doug’s plea from the rock ’n’ roll in his soul. Doug and Patty know how to keep it real and frequently create magic with the whole being greater than the sum of its parts—a great listen. (T Max)
Honey and Tears
These days it seems you can’t throw a pair of Doc Marten boots without hitting a middle-aged punk who has turned his attention to the more gentile fare of roots music. Fortunately, we have a lot of talented aging punks in this town. For The Unnatural Axe frontman, those roots aren’t found so much in the twang of country or Americana (although those influences are definitely detectable) as they are the in the sugar rush of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison. Parsons has a fittingly smooth voice that may surprise those who only associate him with “They Saved Hitler’s Brain,” and the album is replete with dreamy background vocals. With power pop legend Ken Stringfellow at the helm, this record is lush, thick and lustrous to a degree that would make Tom Selleck’s hair jealous. While at times things go down a little too easily, Parsons alleviates anyone who fears he has forgotten his more rocking side with a raucous shout-out to The Outlets and The Modern Lovers on “Mixtape.” (Kevin Finn)
DAVID GREENBERGER & THE PAHLTONE SCOOTERS
Pel Pel Recordings
Fractions by Stella
This is abstract music welded to spoken word passages which are excerpted from Greenberger’s long-standing Duplex Planet contributors. Highlights include: “No Fear for People” and “The Wrong Kind of Serum” two uniquely twisted takes on the Frankenstein legend; the backwards tracking at the conclusion of “Something Will Happen;” the circus-like background accompaniment to “Smoking Is a Pleasure;” and the gratuitously silly “32 Causes of Headaches.” Other high points: my personal favorite, the whimsical and strangely choppy and grand “Saddle Kate, She Cried;” the whacky deconstructed hillbilly music of “Pone;” the cartoonish prog-rock of “Waiting for Snow;” the disconnected ruminations of “Herbie,” and the eerie percussive undertow to “Leave This Happiness.” These recordings include talented musicians such as Eugene Chadborne and Frank Pahl. They were recoded in 1994-95 and are of historic interest as Greenberger’s first foray into what we might term as a hybrid form. (Francis DiMenno)
WILLARD GRANT CONSPIRACY
13 tracks [only available as an import]
When WGC first appeared on the Boston music scene in 1995, they were a unique, fresh voice for a new style of Americana. The ensuing years have seen numerous incarnations of the band, both live and on record. Their huge critical success in Europe was a welcome surprise, though they still remain a cult act here in the USA. From the once 30-member cooperative, one of the most enduring partnerships seems to be singer/songwriter/guitarist Robert Fisher and viola player, David Michael Curry. In many ways Ghost Republic is a celebration of this musical partnership. The viola and myriad instruments that Curry plays offer examples of his unique style that has made him a valued member of WGC (as well as a constant member of the Thalia Zedek Band).
The low-key duo approach works well with each story-scape and the sparse instrumentation creates the aura and mystique needed to weave its spell. Fisher’s dark brooding tunes (“Perry Wallis,” “Rattle and Hiss,” and “The Only Child”) set up a chordal pattern which gradually opens up with evocative coloration. As the album progresses, sounds become more intense, experimental, and even discordant—the instrumentals “Early Hour” and “New Year’s Eve” are mesmerizing. Album closers, “Incident at Mono Lake” and “Oh We Wait” offer a positive hope that more music is yet to come. Hard to find, but highly recommended! (Harry C. Tuniese)
BIG OL’ DIRTY BUCKET
Big Ol’ Dirty Bucket has been wrecking dives all over New England for the past five years, laying a thick slab of creamy mid-’70s funk on the heads and hips of the soulful and soulless alike. Fronted by velvet-throated disco queen Lil’ Shrimp Seminski, BODB is a many-tentacled groove machine of considerable ferocity. Inevitably, a ten-piece, multi-gendered funk band is gonna be compared to either the JB’s or Funkadelic. On Bucket Express, the band leans more toward the former. There’s not a lot of acid-fried gibbering pesudo-Satanic hippie babble in Bucket’s delivery. Everything’s on point, disciplined, well-groomed and sharp-suited. No one’s gotta tell these cats to trim their mustaches. They are on it. They could saunter around in capes, and you’d dig it. The jams generally waver between horn-blasting, funky hip-hop (“Real,” “Bucket Express”) and sweaty Ike n’ Tina dancefloor stompers (“Mizz Green,” “Boss Hogg”). I prefer the latter because I remember when life actually sounded like this—seriously, half this record is the perfect soundtrack for the endless hot summer of ’75—but the modern tracks have their own kinda kick. There’s also a sweet and mellow ballad (“Central Ave Blues”) that sounds like a deep cut on an old Laura Lee record until it explodes halfway through into a gritty R&B blaster. This is not greasy basement p-funk, it’s high-gloss and crystal-sheen, free of the druggy indulgences and angry politics that often marked this style of music. And while I miss all that shit, I can’t really fault BODB for not doing enough heroin or not joining the White/Black Panthers, can I? Anyway, great record. If you don’t dance to this then I can only assume your toes have been chopped off. Or you’re some kind of dick. (Sleazegrinder)
Room with a VU
The posthumous adoration of the mercurial Lou Reed is a baffling scenario. For years, revered by a chosen few, ignored by many, he forged his own trail of honest downbeat rock and never looked back. He was a true iconoclast and his influence was undeniable. Doctor X [Tim Casey] acknowledges all of this in the exquisite liner notes to his latest tribute album (past efforts have included many of his heroes—Dylan, Beatles, Eno, Monkees). But, having spent a lifetime admiring Reed’s talent, I have mixed feelings about these renditions—some work (“I Can’t Stand It,” “White Light White Heat,” “Pale Blue Eyes,” “I’ll Be Your Mirror”) but some don’t (“Sweet Jane,” “Heroin,” “I’m Sticking with You,” “Femme Fatale”). The well-known songs sound a bit contrived, while lesser tunes shine. I’m surprised that the poptimistic attitude that Doctor X usually exudes is missing. Maybe Reed’s recent death cast a pall over the proceedings. Overall, a fine album that deserves a listen or two, just to appreciate the reverential effort involved. (Harry C. Tuniese)
ROTATING STRAWBERRY MADONNA
Hit All the Walls
This album reminds me of Evil Dead the Musical, Bikini Kill, and Our Band Could Be Your Life so, yeah, sign me up. I’m not saying it’s as awesome as any of those things, but this is a band that is clearly striving for something and doesn’t want to sound like every other band out there. We need more of that. The music owes a debt to the heavier end of ’80s and ’90s indie rock and would fit in nicely on a bill with contemporaries like Speedy Ortiz or Potty Mouth. Isn’t it nice to see the kids picking up electric guitars again? Thank God. Anyway, the band members all hold their own, but it’s singer/bassist R. Logan that draws you in. Her vocals are playfully sarcastic with more than a little mischief thrown in for good measure. She can sound sweet one moment and like a spawn of the devil the next. At times the music gets a little too histrionic or sludgy, but I’m certainly interested in hearing more from these folks. (Kevin Finn)
Lady Ray consists of Rachel Barringer’s ethereal vocals and melancholy cello, an instrument on which she displays amazing skills. Upon first hearing, this could easily become lost in a sea of music within its genre and seem unremarkable within its realm. Upon listening closely however, there’s an aural journey here that would make Nietzsche proud, for this is his abyss manifested as sound. This music is haunting with more than a little of a Nico-esque vibe. It’s not going to be a hit at parties. I can see myself using this to induce some sorrowful catharsis while painting perhaps. It might work well for me for meditation if it weren’t for its somber and often somewhat disturbing intonations.
The title track drew me in—peaceful and hypnotic. Another that resonated well with me was “Ba-Tampte.” Melodic and calming. “Cabuya” conveyed a sense of menace and foreboding to me, never quite reaching a conclusion. Perhaps a good thing? “Moon Yekah” was a piece I couldn’t get away from fast enough. I found it impossible to remain calm while hearing it. Like nails on a blackboard, it was a funereal march, pounding redundantly.
“Filomena” was one I courted with liking, but in the end my nerves were frayed. “Las Tortugas Perdidas” was lovely, invoking a dangergous, seductive siren, luring you closer to doom as you tread the treacherous waters in which she resides. Perhaps it’s appropriate that I’m writing this review during the Halloween season, since this CD would make an extraordinary score to a truly mind blowing horror film. I feel as if I need sunshine at this moment and a strong, tropical drink with a brightly colored umbrella. Sorry, I just can’t recommend this one, but I must say, it does cast a formidable shadow rather beautifully. (R.J. Ouellette)
Full and fair disclosure—Onslo has been one of my favorite emerging, greater-Boston bands of the last few years. This review reflects my bias and a tendency to love every bit of weirdness these guys produce.
After years of sporadically self-released EPs Onslo has collected the best of their catalog into this 12-track, self-titled, full-length debut.
Imagine, if you will, that you could take Yes’s Tales From Topographic Oceans, distill the songs down to Ramones-like length, remove the keyboards, and add blazing guitars. The results might might sound a lot like the noises that Onslo produce. It’s as though Freddie Mercury was fronting your favorite punk rock band doing its best to imitate King Crimson.
The two minute seven second “Harpies” is built on top of blistering guitar scales and has more melody changes than an entire Rush concept album. “Hoagland” could be the theme song for some new hipster Saturday morning cartoon that parents enjoy as much as their kids.
Another compelling piece of the Onslo experience is Aaron’s bass playing. With whacky, home-made pedals, his fuzzed and distorted base takes the lead in many of the tracks, leaving Ethan’s guitar to either provide the treble to the riffing, or solo around the edges. Whichever the case, the effect is stunning.
Onslo’s over-the-top, completely insincere, tongue-in-cheek-sounding choruses are a wonder to behold. Those Yes and Queen influences get fed through a Weezer filter and come out the other end sounding like a cross between Monty Python and Spinal Tap.
Buy this album. Support this band. All hail Onslo! (George Dow)
It would only make sense to say so in these pages, so I will: Heavy Necker is like the second coming of Cracktorch, or at least their enthusiastic younger cousins from the ‘burbs. It’s all there, really. A charismatic, high-impact, dancin’ fool frontman (in this case, Gibson SG-wrangling prodigy Christopher Cardone), a deep and open affection for ’60s/’70s riff rock (more Cream than Lizzy, but whatever) and an up-for-anything vibe that can turn a sparsely-attended gig into a Bacchanalian orgy of blood, guts, beer, and sex fluids. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed or not, but this town is a lot more fun with a Cracktorch in it. Reptile Kings offers up four sweaty, blues-inflected rock ’n’ soul jammers that don’t sound like anybody, really, but sorta feel like early Rose Tattoo or maybe Circus of Power, like maybe Heavy Necker aren’t bikers themselves, but they’d hire them for security. It’s bar-brawl rock for well-dressed hedonists and boozy gangster molls. Things probably snap together most effortlessly in the cranking “Crocodile Tears,” but it’s the signature acid-blues riff in “Memento Mori” that’ll probably put these dudes on the map. An exciting and crucial document of a band with an entirely unique take on classic heavy rock. Finally, another local rock band we can all fight and fuck to. (Sleazegrinder)
SLANT OF LIGHT
Is 5 Records
“If This Ever Happens” b/w “Last Of Its Kind”
2 tracks on 7” vinyl
Banjos and standup bass abound on this two-track offering from Slant of Light. These gentlemen are clearly looking for a seat at the table set by the likes of the Avett Brothers and Mumford & Sons. On the upside, they lack the overwrought earnestness of Mumford. On the downside, they lack the punky exuberance of the Avetts.
In an interesting twist on the most recent batch of modern folk rockers, guitarist/vocalist M.E. Foley delivers his vocals with a distinctly British flair. He comes across somewhere between the Velvet Underground’s John Cale and Donovan (of “Sunshine Superman” fame). It’s that unique vocal delivery that sets Slant of Light apart from other run-of-the-mill knock-offs of this newly hip, old-fashioned style of traditional music. (George Dow)
DiBiasio, lead guitarist for Three Day Threshold, has emerged with a diverse and worthy and downright fun solo project; it is mostly rock and roll with a strong strain of Americana, particularly on the irresistible opening track “North Carolina Hymn.” “Buried Treasure” continues with the down-home strain, with its truncated march rhythm yoked to an attenuated heavy metal (!) refrain and a lunatic space rock middle eight. “Dirty Bird” is a whimsically cockeyed love song with a huge percussive sound linked to a country-rock guitar feel. “Old Egypt Fantasy” is an eldritch fantasia with a keening throughline full of melodic loveliness and a racing percussive break which is dynamic and exciting. “Arkansas Bob’s Corn on the Cob” is a goofy chantey; “My Bike! My Bike! I Want My Bike!” is another goof–a foray into farcical heavy metal. “Penny Candy” is a lushly atmospheric number which puts a spooky lid on the proceedings. The best of these songs are full of surprises and this is a truly worthy solo outing. (Francis DiMenno)
“Good Health” b/w “Blood Orange Blossom”
2 tracks on 7” vinyl
Usually when an album arrives in slap-dash packaging the musical contents reflect the lack of attention paid to the presentation. If that rule held true here, Rye Pines’ Good Health 7” would be one for the record book. The disc is in a plain white sleeve and the label on the 7” has been handwritten with a Sharpie, scanned and printed onto the adhesive label. “This ought to be great,” I think with a mental eye roll thrown in for good measure.
What follows, when the needle hits the vinyl, is a shockingly good pair of indie rock tracks. Both sound a bit like Modest Mouse as reinterpreted by J. Mascis and Lou Barlow. “Good Health” uses the Pixies’ loud-quite-loud formula in good measure and is the poppier of the two tracks— jangly acoustic-ish verses followed by driving electric choruses. “Blood Orange Blossom” hits harder, showing the Dinosaur Jr. influence with noisy guitar wailing.
Damn, I’m glad I set the packaging aside and gave this one a good listen. (George Dow)
What Are You Wrong With
Bedroom Eyes are a Boston band that has been around a few years. I had not actually heard their music until right now. Big mistake. These guys are right up my alley. Hey! Get out of my alley, damn kids! Bedroom Eyes are too heavy to be labeled shoegaze, but too poppy for prog. If this band came out 20 years ago they could have gotten rich. Don’t give up, guys. When the next wave comes, ride it to the top. Until then, just keep making good, really interesting albums like this. (Eric Baylies)
75 or Less Records
Cool the Burn
“The Barker” is a synth-laden quasi-country instrumental pleasantly reminiscent of both the Meat Puppets and Wendy Carlos, among others, with a friendly vibe. “Worn Out Welcome” is more anodyne; snotty power pop with a good-time psychedelic guitar line. “Whiskey” is a snazzy (and bluesy) shuffle with elements of prog rock. “Midnight Clover” is generic thrash metal; “Dabbler” the best of show, is an epic drum and synth confection with a strangely resonant guitar line and cab-mike distorted vocals. Bueno. (Bonus: There are six more tracks–which sound like backwards renditions of the original six songs.) (Francis DiMenno)
Christ, my life is littered with rock ’n’ roll Johnnys. Johnny Machine, Johnny Flash, Johnny Anguish, Johnny Outlaw—is there really room for another one? Just how many goddamn Johnnys does it take to make a rock record in this town? Anyway, as his Hollywood surname implies, Johnny Fury shares some kinship to Billy Fury, the early ’60s Brit Elvis clone with the bitchin’ blonde pompadour. Billy created music that had the outward appearance of sweaty masculinity, but a few licks revealed a gooey pop center. Same deal here. It opens with “Without Me,” a stab at jittery ’50s skiffle/rockabilly, but the album quickly settles into light blues-rock (“My Heart is Yours,” “Tomorrow Is a Day Dream”) and ends in a couple of fluffy, entirely pleasant ballads (“Rosalie,” “She’s The One”) that owe as much to doo-wop as they do to The Beatles. It’s a schizophrenic stew cooked up by an earnest young dude who is very clearly in love with rock ’n’ roll in it’s formative years. That’s cool and even admirable, but all this vintage genre-jumping makes for a disjointed album. It’d work a lot better as singles, as scratchy 45’s, fished from a four foot stack at In Your Ear, maybe. It just seems bizarre that any of these songs would be on a CD. I mean, if we’re gonna get retro, we might as well take it all the way. Is that too much to ask? Clearly it is. In summation: Johnny Fury, 2014’s answer to 1962. Your call. (Sleazegrinder)
I’ve learned to set aside preconceived notions when reviewing records by bands that I’ve never heard of and for which I have no context on which to base an opinion. It’s a skill that has served me well. Sleep Crimes’ four-song EP is a case-study in why this is a sound practice.
The CD comes in a brown cardboard case with the band name airbrushed on the front and daintily bedazzled with plastic jewels and candy stickers—lollipops, popcorn, cotton candy, etc.
The band’s title track, “Sleep Crimes,” sounds like heavy, female-fronted, gothic metal. Three-and-a-half minutes in the track morphs into the rockabilly-goth nonsensical, “Even Cows Sing the Moos.”
All vestiges of seriousness are thrown from the window with “I Pledge My Love (to Satan),” which is a Grease meets Little Shop of Horrors ’50s-style show tune which makes me smile wider with every listen.
The too-short EP ends with “Psychic Cockroach” which, on one hand sounds like Safari-era Breeders, while on the other hand sounds like the vintage British punk of Vice Squad.
The four songs that comprise this EP may, at first glance, sound all over the map, but I can assure you that there is a common thread of awesomeness that makes Sleep Crimes’ EP a worthwhile listen. (George Dow)
River King Records
Shades of Blues
This seven-song release is killer. George’s guitar tone and incredible solos make these blues and R&B songs completely red hot and blue. Five of the cuts are written by him and the two covers; “This Is My Life” originally done by Blues singer Chick Willis; and an eleven and a half minute version of B.B.’s “You Done Lost Your Good Thing Now” are packed with McCann’s intense creativity jumping out of the speakers. The instrumental opener “Yeah Man” and “Same Old Thing” are uptempo R&B, more New Orleans than Chicago, that sound like they are recorded live in the studio. You can FEEL the heat. “Shades of Green” and “Young Woman’s Love” are slower, introspective and more traditional. My favorite song is “Barnburner” that really showcases the great interplay between the guitar and the keys evident in all the tunes. It’s a rough and ready uptempo song that would be a great opener for their live set. The guitar playing’s virtuosity, creativity and passion push this song to the head of the class. George also is the blazing guitarist in The James Montgomery Band but rarely sings with them. With his own band his vocals are surprisingly good and are perfect for the sound. George is on guitar and vocals, Jack Bialka on bass, Dave Limina on keys, and Forrest Padgett pounds the drums—they play great together. I like it a lot. (A.J. Wachtel)
David Carradine’s new CD on Providence label Riotus Outburst Records is a short and not so sweet mix of old school Boston sounding punk with some grindcore thrown in. With titles like “We’re David Carradine and We Don’t Sing About Kung Fu” and “Kyle Listens To Techno in His Car With Bob Ross In His Memory” you may get the impression that this is a joke band. They use humor as a weapon and are not really a joke band at all. Most songs clock in at under a minute and are right to the point. David Carradine is a great live band, too, so watch out Boston! (Eric Baylies)
7” vinyl EP
Bundles play anthemic barroom punk in a classic three-piece form. There are lots of heartfelt, earnest lyrics delivered in a sing/shout manner with lots of gang-vocal-ready choruses.
Bundles have an ear for melody, like Gaslight Anthem but much rougher edges. At the same time they know how to let out a hardcore scream reminiscent of a less abrasive Fucked Up.
It’s a satisfying midpoint on the punk rock pendulum. Just because a band doesn’t break new ground doesn’t mean they’re not worth a listen. (George Dow)
Like any band in this overstuffed, incestuous burg, Hold/Transfer is rife with known quantities, including Mike Taggart, formerly of Good North, and Heather Mars of Midnight Creeps fame. Who cares, really, it’s a new dawn and all, but I just figured you might wanna know. Their sound is post-punky and shoegazy, with a creepy coldwave edge that suggests nobody in the band will ever truly love anything or anybody. It’s like five Ian Curtises, sitting in their respective kitchens, scribbling harrowing death poetry on the backs of envelopes stuffed with unpaid bills while a warped JAMC record skips in the background. On first blush I sank into an inky black well of depression—Jesus, one of the songs is called “What Is Friendship Anyway?” and half of them are about walking around by yourself—but after a fistful of Zoloft I gave it another try, and it all started to click. It’s definitely a mood piece, but a solid one, perfect for losing an afternoon sunk deep into the couch of woe. There are herky-jerky stompers like “Hang Tight and Wait” or “Hissfits” that would not be out of place at a panicky death-rock rave, but it’s the slow-burning doom-pop gut-churners like “Subways,” “Sofia,” and “Spoken For” that really crawl under your skin. Heavy. (Sleazegrinder)
Lightning Plug Records
Owed to the Tanglin Wind
This sounds to me like a set of songs out of the playbook of Paul Simon’s “The Boxer.” Every so often Blakeslee turns out a pleasant tune with guitar accompaniment in its skilled minimalism reminiscent of John Fahey, as in the excellent “Poet on the Porch.” Overall, this is, on the one hand, a thoroughly pleasurable excursion into folksy singer-songwriter territory, sometimes with spooky overtones, as on “My Lightning Valentino” and the solemn title track. “Love and Confection” and “To Count On” explore a more bare-boned style. My sole caveat: the solemnity of many of these numbers tends to produce an effect which, overall, is underwhelming, except perhaps on “Picture in My Wallet,” a lovely closing track replete with reverential harmony vocals. (Francis DiMenno)
There was a reason I left behind the hair-metal ’80s in favor of the punk/hardcore scene. Very quickly I learned to hate the sterile production that made the music sound like it was produced in a level-five clean room. The whole thing reeked of insincerity. Metal Pistol embody all the reasons I made that transition away from hair-metal.
That said, I think I can objectively speak to why this record might appeal to those that still carry the torch for this brand of metal—and I understand that there are still a large contingent that do.
Let’s take the guitars. Set aside for a moment the fact they they have been filtered and sterilized to a point where you could perform surgery on them with no fear of contracting infection. Suspend for a moment my preexisting bias and I will tell you that Steven Stanley can shred. The riffs and solos rival anything that’s come out of the Scorpions’ in the last 30 years. In fact, if you strip away the Scorpion’s tendency for arena-sized power ballads, Metal Pistol, musically speaking, sound quite a bit like anything from the post-1990 Scorps’ catalog.
Vocally, Sunny Lee, sounds like a less polished Lita Ford, which I mean as a compliment. Maybe a Runaways-era Lita. Again, for my taste, they’ve been squeegeed far too clean. When she delivers the vocals for the environmental activist rant, “Pollution Solution,” she sounds more like she’s singing from inside a hermetically sealed haz-mat suit as opposed from on-the-ground at a toxic super fund site.
Metal Pistol show that they may have some dirt beneath the gleam on a couple of tracks. The instrumental title track, “Magnum Force” is built atop a ZZ Top-esque blues riff that chugs along for three minutes. The track shows the rhythm section’s skills at driving the beat while letting Steven solo over the top. “Destruction In Action” finds Sunny Lee growling like a slightly less pissed off Wendy O’Williams once the power ballad intro drops out and the early-Prong-sounding power riffs take over.
My best advice to Metal Pistol—next time out, leave the Clorox and hydrogen peroxide behind and go take a roll in the mud before hitting the studio. (George Dow)