It’s rock n roll time. The publicity promises an all killer no filler hard hitting blues-influenced rock concoction. There’s even an exclamation mark in the band’s name. There is talk of punk rock attitude, swagger and reckless abandon. There’s no mention of locust swarms or apocalypses, but this doesn’t seem to be what these people from the British Columbian backwoods are about.
Let me present this from another angle. I didn’t find anything remotely kickass or original about this. “Livin’ Free”, “Ready to Roll”, “Another Bottle” may represent a lifestyle choice but does selecting magnolia paint for your living room wall. This is one dreary rock n roll song after another. I get the blues influence, and the songs are constructed in a way which is akin to the rock n roll vibe, but where’s the power or energy? Recognising that the claims led me to expect something more explosive, or even vaguely explosive, there are two problems here for me: the underdeveloped mix, which might work for an audience in the pub, and the vocals, which are weak. There’s a kind of similarity to Sebastian Bach about them but the Bachman’s voice has authority. “Best in the West” had momentary interest, and this is followed up with a chunky guitar section on “Six Hundred Sixty Six” but I’m really clutching at straws here. There is movement and fluidity, which again would suit a live setting, but these rock n roll songs wouldn’t win a prize for originality. “Rattleshake Shake” rattles along very nicely and is fun. There is undoubtedly a fun element in this, and I take my hat off to the band for that. It’s just a shame that most of this album falls into the “well played, but only ok” category. I found “Run Home” especially dreary but then to be fair I don’t normally connect to a blues style. “Down at the Bottom” continues in a darker but similarly uninspiring vein. At least “Kansas City Shuffle” has nice guitar lines and some life, but once again the overall power is lacking. This did not grab me by the balls. I’m sure if that was part of the promise.
This collection of songs is harmless enough but I can’t imagine that was the intention. After listening to “Wild at Heart”, which in my eyes and ears this distinctly wasn’t, I can understand why the band might invite us to take to another bottle.
(4/10 Andrew Doherty)