Thursday, November 17, 2011

Butch Walker and The Black Widows

The Spade
The Butch Walker most of us got acquainted with was the power pop, anthemic rocker from Marvelous 3 who knew his way around massive hooks and the formula for hit songs. Since trying and unfortunately failing commercially with songs for himself that ended up being massive chart toppers for Pink, Avril Lavinge and Fall Out Boy, he’s stripped it back quite a bit and sounds more like Jesse Malin or Ryan Adams then the Warrant/Def Leppardish style he had for the M3’s “Ready, Sex, Go” album or even his first solo effort “Left of Self Centered.” “The Spade” is probably about as close as we’re gonna get to vintage Butch, specifically the song “Summer of ’89” which single-handedly makes the record worth buying. It’s not his best, but it’s far better than the melancholy approach to the last few. 6/10
-- B.J. Lisko

Michael Monroe

Sensory Overdrive
On his latest solo effort, Hanoi Rocks frontman Michael Monroe is back with all the swagger of his heyday. “Sensory Overdrive” is a hard-driving rock ‘n’ roll record full of big choruses and includes some of his best material in years. “78,” “Superpowered Superfly,” “Later Won’t Wait” and “Modern Day Miracle” are full of grit, glitz and chalked full of melody. Other moments – “Bombs Away,” “Got Blood” – are punk and fresh. Lemmy makes a cameo on “Debauchery As A Fine Art” and the track chugs along like a fist-pumping Motorhead anthem. The slower numbers including “All You Need” aren’t quite ballads but are heartfelt and as catchy as Hanoi’s best numbers. Whether his old band gets back together remains to be seen, but if they don’t, Monroe solo more than fills the void. -- 7/10
– B.J. Lisko

The Hookers

Horror Rises From The Tombs
Green Mist Records

Just when we thought all hope, life and light has vanished, The Hookers rise again after reuniting from an eight year split to bring even more piercing, pitch-black darkness into the B&W leather color scheme across the crusty punk/metal wastelands. Horror Rises From The Tombs is compiled of 12 ground and grave breaking new releases and 3 live bonus tracks. Kentucky born and bred, deathly live and freakishly undead, these decomposed, metalhead outcasts have really outdone themselves with this mighty sheath and heathernly, swift sword comeback stabbing down the throats of innocent bystanders who have yet to get with their 17 year program. The R'NR Outlaw took a walk through long periods of darkness with other side projects, such as, Blade of the Ripper and bounced back full of blood and scraped knuckles to form the underground, cult classick, Brothers of Conquests, only to find his true origins once again with the heavy metal, thunderous monster he brought to existence in 1994. 
Long term side effects resulting from listening to Horror Rises From The Tombs include; drum punctured, ringing ears enough to drive a steer of diseased, cattle mad; harshness in throat from screaming to the top of your lungs to "Crypt Of The Living Dead"; shortness in breathing from getting sucker punched from "The Clock Strikes 12"; blurrred vision from drinking to "The Lying Witch"; goosebumps from standing, "At the Grave Of Stoney Tombs"; Dizziness from thrashing your sweaty hair in your face upon hour on in repeating, "Black Past:". Grinding teeth and windblown hair from blasting, "Two Wheels"; Unnatural high from clinching this entire album in your hands to hold and have with you until the end of time. 
The more and more you steer and drive this under your record player's needle, the more and more you realize its not recommended for the weak at heart, stomach and reality period. Eat Hookers! Breath Hookers! Shit & puke Hookers 'Until the Day you Die'

The Thriller Memorandum

Various Artists
Cherry Red Records

This brilliant compilation of spy jazz and crime surf and secret agent fuzz and dangerous curves had me checking the dashboard of the Mazda for the hidden button that launches the stealth rockets out of the rear bumper. What we have here is the swingingest sounds from obscure spy thrillers and TV shows and exotica records from 1962-1972 all cleverly packaged in one easily concealed, pin-striped, silencer-fitted hip flask of retro-cool. It would be quite the impossible mission to mention every highlight on this absolutely necessary collection, but some of the many choice cuts include the flute and vibes driven slow burner "Yes and No" by Des Champ, the midnight creeper "Ghost Squad" by the Tony Hatch Orchestra, which consists of one lonely whistler and a skeletal jazz band, the Spaghetti western meets surf city guitar and bongo frenzy of "A Night With Nuki" by the Brian Marshall Orchestra, and the funeral band goes Bossa Nova swing of the "Penthouse" theme by Johnny Hawksworth. There's also some easily recognizable tracks on deck, like "The Saint" theme by Edwin Astley, "Live and Let Die" by David Lloyd and his London Orchestra, and "Mission Impossible" by the Mike Hurst Orchestra. Man, I feel cooler just typing all those cats' names out. Listen, if you're not down with go-go dancing dragon lady Kissy Suzuki, you better pick up the Thriller Memorandum, but quick. The dossier included will explain everything, just make sure you destroy the evidence before the Reds or the Pinkos or somebody gets their filthy mitts on it. Martinis and buxom Siberian double agents optional, but encouraged.

- Agent Sleaze


Wolfsbane Save The World

I’m not really sure where to begin here. It’s been such a long time since I’ve heard a true album. Not a few good songs here and there with the obligatory filler, but an honest to goodness rock ‘n’ roll album start to finish. A record that not only gets you off your ass and swings and moves and energizes with the god damned passion that made you love music in the first place, but also completely reasserts your faith in the rock 'n' fuckin' roll that got you completely addicted to begin with.
Wolfsbane, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, titled their new album “Wolfsbane Save The World.” I’m here to tell you it ain’t no joke. From the opening guitar of “Blue Sky,” all the way to the haunting and huge “Child of the Sun,” to album closer and a single they released earlier in the year “Did It For The Money,” this album was almost two decades in the making and somehow Wolfsbane has made it worth the wait.
Singer Blaze Bayley’s true passion may be heavy metal, but on here is positively charming as he croons and sings with swagger belting out very melodic hard rock ‘n’ roll with complete ease. Wolfsbane have always had that tinge of Roth-era Van Halen and a trace of Black Crowes, but Van Halen and the Black Crowes never wrote a record this good. How bold of a statement is that for you? And while “Teacher” may strike even more similarities to DLR, Wolfsbane takes the rock further, the melody further, the backing vocals further and the songwriting further, too. “Starlight” and “Illusion of Love” are positively anthemic. So much so the latter sounds like a punked-up version of "Bat Out Of Hell." The hooks on both will give you goose bumps, the hair on the back of your neck standing up just long enough before they slam you back to the womb again with slamming riff-raff, stories of being born in the “Smoke and Red Light,” and that “Everybody’s Looking For Something Baby.” Every song sounds like it could be a set closer, building and building with immense anticipation before completely crashing over the top and ending in spectacular fashion and fanfare. Wolfsbane has just written the record of not only the year, but also of their career and quite possibly everyone else’s too. Motherfuckin’ 10/10
– B.J. Lisko
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