The Almighty - The Almighty
Broken up for four years, The Almighty are one of those classic cases of a band who were and are household names in the UK and nobodies over here. And they sound American, unfortunately like major label Americans, this uneventful miasma of metal, punk, hard alt.rock, sorta like Lit before there was a Lit, cranked with the street cred of Social Distortion, the homefires of Wildhearts, and a hollow space where the good songs are supposed to be. For all you Canuckleheads, there's a nagging Headstones burp to the thing, The Almighty rocking with a thumpy sneer but never really passing the squared-off bar rock that caused shrugs for so many years. They strike me as the kind of guys that would turn their tattooed nasals at a good guitar solo or a rhythm that wasn't based on The Ramones, same production throughout, shouty vocals, blah blah blah. It's the type of sound that works wonders live, basically happily, boozily, easily deconstructable, but on record it feels like being hit over the head with a rubber alternative rock mallet.
The Unband - Retarder
More hard rock proposals every day, and it's becoming hard to be a pigeon-holing journo. Take The Unband f'rinstance, the rough, unshaven bastard offspring of punk, grunge, redneck metal, '70s rock and all things loud and lout-ish. And it works too, for two reasons. One, it takes all the corporate chorus pay-offs of a Buckcherry and throws them into the Hudson. This stuff grinds, grooves and does it with loud drums. Second, vocalist Matt Pierce has a great big whiskey voice, expressive, explosive, booze-rocked, able to tear off a strip above the power trio din of the musical attack. Then there's that cover of Billy Squier's Everybody Wants Some, cheeky sure, maybe even a little of a letdown after the bombastic originals, a raft of songs that remind me of that brief flicker of magic Urge Overkill got up to for about three months back in '93. Happy and headbanging right away, but I wonder if it fades fast like Chinese food.