As the week trails off and worry throughout the world of the coronavirus strengthens paranoia, and the World Health Organization declares it a pandemic, the world seems to be bouncing back. While the media allows fear to unravel people, positive aspects are all but ignored with those who have recovered. But what does this mean for the rest of us? Well, looks like our planned trips to SXSW are still canceled, although it was a good thing we didn’t have to purchase anything aside from hotel reservations. For other organizations like Cochella, things aren’t looking any better. It’s back to business as usual on our end though.
So I begin this with a new release by The Mr. T Experience. We all know, or at least heard of the pop-punk band led by Dr. Frank. The group’s new release is actually a ‘best of’ collections entitled MTX Forever. For the discerning hardcore fan, the 24-song compilation is made with you in mind, although I’m not sure if the casual music listener would be so challenged although osne of my favorites, “The End Of The Ramones,” is here. It owes much to Joey and family, but then again, I’ve always thought Mr. T did as well, although they’ve gone further musically than the Ramones ever did.
There are these residual Hot Tub Time Machine moments I find myself in. Not the kind where I’ve been whisked away into an alternate form of being, a youthful me so to speak but rather, senses are abruptly altered, offering up a sense of Déjà vu or a feeling of nostalgia. How does that happen? Now that is a good question.
The new self-titled album by the Chicago sextet Rookie is the band’s debut full-length release and yes, the group tears through its recording straight out the gate with a ripper of a track in “Hold On Tight.” The band barely gives listeners a chance to breathe before striking those first few chords that tell you yeah, there’s something here alright. The imagery of classic 70s rock permeates through the air, winding around guitars that duel against one another as the rhythm section’s steady attack holds everything tightly wound together as vocals…well, they match the power here and the band marks itself as an unequivocal badass. One thing the band doesn’t give up on is the strong melodies to coincide with that healthy crunchiness embedded within their songs. “I Can’t Have You But I Want You,” on this unrequited love song filled with harmonies, ever so slight dissonance, and soaring vocals! You’ll be quickly smitten by the sound that emanates from the group but don’t get things tightly twisted, Rookie is more than a one-trick pony.
There’s an Americana/Country-esque edge to the group that can be heard to balance out the band’s sound, showcasing a bit more versatility. “Elementary Blues” utilizes a pedal steel guitar and organ, along with lightly strummed guitars, never eschewing harmonies but also including vocals loaded with effects. “Michigan” includes the same organs and while it holds on tightly to those Americana roots, the crunch factor is a bit heavier, owing much to that Neil Young haze, both vocally and musically. Rookie leaps back and forth between genres there but no one’s going to care because this is all just that good!
Songs like “One-Way Ticket” and “Miss United States” turn those levels back up for that big rock sound, enunciating everything, gnawing with those healthy and heavier guitars. After just one listen the group is in your ear, hypnotizing with its magic. I keep wondering if this is some kind of trickery on their part or just absolute genius. I’m sticking with the latter.
Rookie does come as a surprise, one that’s filled with everything anyone would like, or want, in a true rock outfit. Are the band’s influences worn clearly on sleeves? Yes. Is the Rookie’s music worth a listen? One right after the other for days, if not weeks, on end. But it’s doubtful anyone would tire of listening to the band because what the group has pieced together here is nothing short of amazing.
Sometimes, anything worth listening to should be listened to at extreme levels. Sorry, I think this goes for just about everything. This obviously applies to music that scorches the soul with loud, distorted guitars and pummeling rhythms throughout. It should be something that goes without saying really.
Enter: The Goners. The band is made up of former Salem’s Pot vocalist/guitarist Nate Gone along with former members of Sweden’s Yvonne. Now the band isn’t easily labeled as one thing or another, but they chug along under the metal umbrella, not truly being able to classify itself as stoner metal or even allowing its true metal leanings to be completely embraced by that crowd. In fact, the band easily slips and slides its way among all, yet none. Seems like a tricky endeavor for the band’s Good Mourning (RidingEasy Records) full-length debut.
I made an attempt at listening to this without the levels turned up to 11 and honestly, it doesn’t work. You have to rip this shit as loud as you possibly can to fully enjoy the explosiveness of The Goners. Does this mean it’s the only way to listen to the band’s music? No, not at all but they tear shit apart. Consider the opening “Are You Gone Yet,” with its soulful rhythms and guitars crashing against one another, they remind everyone here if you’re going to rock, you need to ROCK. And the band does it here, cleanly and concisely. It’s even become difficult to not hit that repeat button. Even when the group takes a different approach slowing things down a bit with “World Of Decay,” there’s nothing lost in terms of power. The members seamlessly work a rhythm so hard it’s left tattered in the band’s path. Even when the band shows semblances of Ennio Morricone spaghetti western influence on “Good Ol’ Death,” a Goners identity is still front and center.
The Goners are able to take listeners on a journey with Good Mourning, which strays from the norm, taking its own path musically. It’s a welcomed listen as the group offers up a change from its own contemporaries.
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