Buckcherry, Time Bomb (DreamWorks Records)
"This is the album we always wanted to make," Buckcherry's bone-thin lead-singer Josh Todd says of Time Bomb, the LA-based band's ferocious follow up to their self-titled, gold-selling 1999 debut. In a millennium where most bands are desperately trying to combine rock, rap, heavy metal and anything else they've ever heard into something they hope will make it to "flavor of the week," it's nice to know there's at least one band that knows what it wants and has been able to get it.
Unfazed by the notorious "sophomore jinx" that's taken many bands from the top of the charts to "Where Are They Now?" status, with their second release, Buckcherry have gone deeper into the darkest corners of their rock 'n' roll souls and have come up with twelve tracks of steel and squeal that make their first record seem like pop rock in comparison. New tunes like "Porno Star," "Slit My Wrists" and "Whiskey in the Morning" are overflowing with ass-kicking attitude, bone-crushing backbeats and gobs of greasy-fingered guitar work. "Without You" is the requisite power ballad, and taken for what it's worth, ain't half bad. It will at least give the fuses on your stereo a chance to cool off and let you listen to hear if the neighbors have called the cops yet.
Though there's nothing as immediately ear catching as "Lit Up," the monster hit single from Buckcherry's first record, repeated listening brings out something new and worthwhile in both the music and lyrics. And Time Bomb is a fitting title 'cause there's no telling how big an explosion it's going to make if the damn thing goes off. S.D.
More Buckcherry: Concert Review, Interview
Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Blow in the Wind (Fat Wreck Chords)
Though their first release in '97 featured '70s songs, and the next one punked up show tunes, the boys in the band now tackle songs from the '60s. And though you may not be familiar with the band's name, chances are you know the line up, so let's get the introductions out of the way. On vocals is Spike Slawson (Swingin' Utters), Fat Mike on bass (NOFX), Chris Shifflet on guitar (Foo Fighters), and Joey Cape on guitar (Lagwagon) and Dave Raun on drums (Lagwagon).
That said, what's the deal with this side project? As Spike says, "The Gimmes are great cuz we got nothin' to prove, nothin' to lose, and absolutely nothin' to say." A prophetic statement like that may keep you from beating your heels to the record store, and may also prevent you from logging onto Napster (if they're still alive), and that sort of restraint would be a good thing in this instance. What probably sounded like a good idea over a few beers just doesn't translate well through the speakers. For example, some cuts feature intros that nod toward early punk; "Sloop John B" rips the Ramones' "Lobotomy," before the verse takes off. Similarly "Elenore" begins with the Clash's "London Calling" chord chugging.
And sure it's kind of cute, but, like sound bites or other snippets that intro so much hardcore stuff, it's more of an annoyance. Also, cuts like "My Boyfriend's Back" and "Stand by Your Man" sound a bit strange sung by a guy, but this is a San Francisco outfit, after all.
Songs from the '60s stand just fine on their own, and here it's the treatment that fails. Though the band attempts to "punkify" the songs, they really just speed up the tempos and distort the guitars. The sound is overproduced, with all the glisten and glean usually reserved for teen pop stars. A bright spot is the cover of "I Only Want To Be With You," in which it seems a bit of thought went into the arrangement. The rest you can take or leave. B.R.
Grand Theft Audio, Blame Everyone (London/Sire Records)
When you think of keyboards in a rock band, you usually think of some guy who lays way back, coming forward to shine on the rare ballad. In GTA, however, the keys are as up front and gnarly as the guitars. The result is a huge sound for this London quartet, big, bold, and blaring. How big? Well, hard to describe, it's in the neighborhood of music that accompanies wild action movies like Mission Impossible II or sports videos where Gen X'ers are crashing their bikes and boards left and right. It's a sound that's altogether familiar yet foreign, an admixture that works surprisingly well, and for that reason, keeps your ears riveted.
"Rock the House," for example, has an AC/DC "Back in Black" foundation, that soon drifts into keyboards reverberating over big backing vocals, with a pulsating drum beat that makes you want to bang your head and move your feet at the same time. And if you remember the song "Unbelievable" by EMF, you'll have a sense of the keyboard/electronic side of the band. Ralph Jezzard, who co-wrote and produced that song, covers both bass and keys for GTA.
All the tunes aren't hard charging numbers. "Grey, Black, and White" is a moody piece, a kind of Marilyn Manson-goes-to-the-circus number that swirls about maniacally before settling into a melodic chorus. "As Good As It Gets" has a nice chorus that hooks you, with a pop sound akin to Cheap Trick. Regarding the group's sound, singer Jay Butler explains, "We wanted to make a band that was like all of your favorite bands at the same time." GTA does that, and it's a lot of fun to listen to. B.R.
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