It’s a bumper week for hot rock releases with supergroup Chickenfoot, featuring Joe Satriani (pictured), taking their bow and star-studded three-piece Man Raze hoping it’s third time lucky for the re-release of long-awaited debut Surreal.
Elsewhere we’ve got our hands on two 70s prog/scuzz throwbacks in the shape of new albums by The Atomic Bitchwax and Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound. Both could provide the perfect soundtrack to a lazy, hazy summer and don’t be put off by the ridiculous band names. And flying the flag for British talent this week we bring you the new album by ska/punk heroes Mouthwash and a taste of bitter thrash metal in the shape of Scar My Eyes’ brutal EP.
Chickenfoot – Chickenfoot (earMUSIC)
Don’t be put off by the assault on your senses which marks the first half of this debut release by a band which really shouldn’t fail. Featuring the vocal talents of Sammy Hagar, the intuitive guitar style of Joe Satriani and a rhythm section hewn from Van Halen and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers this is one powerful rock statement.
But the first six songs see all four members of this self-styled supergroup look to make an impression and leave their mark. Tracks like Soap On A Rope and Runnin’ Out suffer from so much musical jousting that it’s just impossible to appreciate their finer points until the third or fourth listen. And it’s only when you hit Down The Drain that this band of mammoth talents and vast experience settle into a truly relaxed and confident groove.
Chickenfoot certainly save the best until last with My Kinda Girl, Learning To Fall and album closer Future In The Past all perfect examples of classic rock par excellence. And we’ll forgive them the frantic pace of the opening tracks simply because they’ve delivered a record any fan of 80s rock will love to bits.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Foot Tapping Class
Man Raze – Surreal (Surrealist Records/Universal Music)
On the day this punk/metal/reggae mash-up was meant to make a big splash on the British public, the distribution company responsible for shifting it nationwide went bust. And this was after an initial delay in bringing Man Raze’s accomplished debut to the masses. But it seems Phil Collen and co. have finally got everything in place to unleash a beast of a record on an audience just waiting to be charmed.
Regular readers of rushonrock will realise we’ve reviewed this little gem before but we’re happy to give it a fresh listen and deliver a fresh verdict. In many ways tracks like Runnin’ Me Up and You’re So Wrong sound even better in the heat of the summer and should bring the house down at Download on Saturday.
Collen, Paul Cook and Simon Laffy clearly enjoy a special bond and, like Chickenfoot, have fused their various talents to create a supergroup worthy of the genre. Man Raze have waited far too long for their moment in the sun but after so many false starts let’s hope Surreal finally gets the credit, and reaps the rewards, it deserves.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 Raze Of Light
The Atomic Bitchwax – TAB 4 (Tee Pee Records)
If you like rock fuelled by power and fine tuned by prog then this could be the album of your year. Imagine Rush on steroids, a less dreamy Dream Theater and the ferocity of an expansive Foo Fighters and you get the eclectic sound created by this thoroughly engaging three piece. From start to finish TAB 4 grabs you by the short and curlies, takes you on a supercharged sonic adventure and burrows relentlessly into the far corners of your bass battered brain.
This record really is a revelation. The juxtaposition of tracks like Don’t Do It and Astronomy Domine is terrific – it’s impossible to know what’s coming next but as a general rule you feel it’s going to be great. TAB have been going for a decade so we don’t know why nobody’s told us about them before. But now we’ve had our first listen it’s safe to say we’re well and truly hooked.
rushonrock rated: 9/10 FanTABulous
Assemble Head In Sunburst Sound – When Sweet Sleep Returned (Tee Pee Records)
With a name like this and an album title like that it’s fair to saw more than few rock fans will immediately file AHISS under ‘up their own arses’. That would be incredibly unjust and a ridiculous waste of a treasure trove of heavy, hazy, humalong joy.
Three albums into their career and AHISS have clearly crafted a unique sound from a love of classic ’70s Pink Floyd and a sprinkling of San Francisco sun. There’s almost a Beach Boys-esque quality about their most uplifting moments but radio-friendly this is not.
The pounding bass lines and risque riffs mean When Sweet Sleep Returns is never destined for saturation airplay – what it is is an exultant experiment on pushing rock’s boundaries. Drunken Leaves deserves to be huge but it fits just fine as a smouldering cult classic.
rushonrock rated: 8/10 Head Fuck
Scar My Eyes – This Machine…EP (Transcend Records)
There’s always been room for a thumping slab of angst-ridden thrash in the rushonrock collection but it’s a while since we’ve heard anything so brave from a British band. Scar My Eyes don’t try to rewrite the rulebook with this five-track explosion but as students of a genre which requires passion and precision they’ve realised sticking to tradition is by far the best policy.
That’s not to say tracks like The Game (Think About It) and Hope In Silence are tainted by tatty plagiarism. There’s a refreshing originality throughout this breezy but brief collection and enough of a twist to attract thrash veterans and metal newcomers alike. Look out for this lot – but it’s more likely you’ll hear them coming first.
rushonrock rated: 6/10 Eyes On The Prize
Mouthwash – True Stories (Rebel Alliance Recordings)
Naming your band after a dental hygeine product might not be the best idea but Mouthwash is marginally better than floss or simple toothpaste. The question is: does this sprightly collection of ska/punk tunes do enough to put a smile on your face?
According to Itch Fox of The King Blues, this lot are the single most exciting band in London right now. If that’s the truth then the capital’s in trouble. Sure they’re a bright and breezy crew capable of crafting a canny little song – and after 12 years playing the live circuit so they should be.
But True Stories just isn’t sparkling enough to outshine allcomers. Tracks like That Girl and Hazy Days have you tapping your feet and grinning inanely but not for long. Listen to this once and it’s 50/50 that you’ll give it a second chance.
rushonrock rated: 5/10 Too True