Archive for April, 2010

It is kind of admirable that a band such as Ratt would come out with a new record in 2010.  Most of their peers are merely content playing county fairs, clubs, and the annual Rocklahoma festival—and most of the time, half of the original members aren’t present.  And when those bands do release something, it usually involves rerecording their old hits (in fact, one of Ratt’s contributions to The Wrestler soundtrack was a modern version of their biggest song “Round and Round”).

Yes, Ratt is back.  And in a big way.  Well, not really, but there’s a pretty big sound on their first release since their self-titled abortion from 1999.  Any fan of the so-called “hair metal” genre will find a lot to like on Infestation.  Classic sounding leads and huge choruses are aplenty.  Singer Stephen Pearcy sounds surprisingly strong after a long absence from the group—his studio voice has always far surpassed his rough-at-best live vocals.  The band in general seems tight; the overall sound of the album is crisp and modern but maintains a certain 80s vibe.

“Eat Me Up Alive” kicks things off and if you didn’t know any better, you’d think these guys were living their glory days again.  The dark tone of the song helps a lot.  Too many of the other songs, however, don’t follow suit.  The first (and presumably only) single, “Best of Me,” is catchy (and could maybe be picked up on modern rock radio) but sounds too much like a reject from a late-period Def Leppard CD.  And the lyrics are positively painful.

Oh, I haven’t mentioned the lyrics on this piece of work?  They’re pretty hard to stomach.  The perfectly acceptable rocker “A Little Too Much” is hampered down with shit like, “You say ‘let’s stop’ / I say ‘let’s go’ / You say ‘it’s hot’ / I say ‘it’s cold’.”  Yet it’s hard to decide whether these songs would be improved by stronger (read: smarter) lyrics, or if they’re better staying in Spinal Tap territory, “treading water in sea of retarded sexuality and bad poetry.”  If you’re paying attention, it can be cringe inducing to hear gems like, “She’s no angel / She’s back in black / No, she’s a devil / But I like that ass.” However, I’ll take it easy on them because, really, who goes into a Ratt album expecting thought provoking poetry?

A legitimate complaint is that the songs here sound a little too similar to set themselves apart.  And when there is a marked difference, the songs aren’t as strong as the others.  “Look Out Below” slows things down and becomes a bit of a chore to get through, as does the ballad(?) “Take Me Home.”  The songs that succeed are the ones that play a little bit with their verse/pre-chorus/chorus formula while maintaining their upbeat tempo, like “Last Call” and “Take a Big Bite.”  Not to beat a dead horse, but it’s better to just let the songs fly by so as not to bring attention to the words on display.

Nothing here is going to shock anyone.  The small section of the population that still follows the trials and tribulations of these guys probably already have the album and they probably love it.  But it’s not magically change anyone’s mind about them. They may not be reinventing the wheel, but at least they’re not just spinning their wheels.

out of 5 weasels.

Choice cuts: “Eat You Up Alive,” “Last Call,” “Take a Big Bite”

Click PLAY for a 30 second free MP3 of each track or the track name for lyrics (if available) in a new tab/window

  1. Eat Me Up Alive
  2. Best Of Me
  3. A Little Too Much
  4. Look Out Below
  5. Last Call
  6. Lost Weekend
  7. As Good As It Gets
  8. Garden Of Eden
  9. Take A Big Bite
  10. Take Me Home
  11. Don’t Let Go

Visit Ratt online: therattpack.commyspace.com/therattpack

“2010 To Be The Year of The Ratt Again, Round and Round?”

“Round and Round” (live ‘84)

Never trust a prairie dog. Support the artist and find out for yourself. WestCoastWeasel.com encourages purchasing Infestation locally at Red Cat Records in Vancouver, B.C, any independent record store of your choice or online here.

Category : Turncoat Turntable | | Date : April 28, 2010

“Prog” has, for the last couple of decades, remained a dirty word in most music circles. Epitomizing the musical excesses that punk, grunge and indie rock reacted against, progressive rock’s weird time signatures, bloated grandeur, and guitar wankery have been the butt end of countless jokes and derisive comments. And yet despite the widespread hate for prog rock, I found myself strangely attracted to the genre in my first year of university.

Bands like the Mars Volta and King Crimson quickly became favourites—blame it on being a band geek—and I opened up to a lot of weirder music. While I’ve strayed from prog over the last few years, its influence on my musical tastes has been significant.

So when Redrick Sultan’s self-titled debut bursts into a prog-funk jam on “Crazy Legs,” it caught my attention. These guys have certainly done their homework, drawing influence from aforementioned prog heavyweights the Mars Volta and King Crimson, Frank Zappa, Genesis, and a plethora of others. With a sound built primarily around a revolving cast of electric guitar, bass, drums, keys and a saxophone, Redrick Sultan do a pretty good job crafting jazzy, off-kilter tunes.

When they’re at their best, the young four-piece are tearing into dense instrumental jams, jumping back and forth between tempos, time signatures and keys, and otherwise showcasing their considerable skills. “Time Travel/But We Are We” busts out a deliciously chunky electric piano riff and an impressive drum solo, and “Crazy Legs” works its way through three or four different movements, each engrossing and challenging. All four members are fantastic at their instruments, and aren’t afraid to let listeners know. With prog, this is a good thing, and they keep things from getting overindulgent.

Where the album suffers a little is song writing. Between scattershot lyrics, “Ham mashed, mashed ham/ Ham mashed, mashed ham,” and rambling song structures, some of the numbers feel like they might work better as jams or interludes than as fully-fledged songs. As a young band, I’m sure this is something that will improve with practice, as there are already some pretty well-written bits here. “Dirt Merchant” is a slow burner that forces the band to focus on keeping things simple and concise, and that focus works to their advantage.

The album’s production also hampers the band’s delivery. While it’s not bad by any stretch, there are sections that are distinctively low-fi, and crisper, cleaner production would have improved most of the songs. The vocals in particular are hurt, as they sometimes get lost in the mix or in their own background noise.

There’s a lot to like on Redrick Sultan’s debut, if you’re into the whole prog thing. They’ve even got enough pop sensibility to appeal to some of the Indie crowd, given the chance. Make no mistakes, Redrick Sultan is a young band, and there are some missteps here, but there’s also a lot of potential. Give this a listen, and keep your ears open for these guys in the future.

out of 5 weasels.

Recommended Tracks: Dirt Merchant, Time Travel/But We Are We

  1. Omelette in the Ceiling
  2. Crazy Legs
  3. Giraffe Food
  4. Time Travel/ But We Are We
  5. Dirt Merchant
  6. Oak Hill of the Bede
  7. Northern Gold
  8. King Song
  9. Lust
  10. Inky
  11. Happy Days

Visit Redrick Sultan online:  redricksultan.com

“Oak Hill of The Bede” (live)

“Dirt Merchant” (live)

“King Song” (live)

Never trust a hamster. Support the artist and find out for yourself. WestCoastWeasel.com encourages purchasing Redrick Sultan at one of their shows, listed here.

Category : Turncoat Turntable | | Date : April 27, 2010