Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bruce Kulick's B3 CD review

Highlights of former Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulick's latest solo effort:


Post-modern rock with somewhat nonsensical lyrics delivered in that fast pitter-patter way reminiscent of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." Kulick's vocals are heavily processed to give it them that machine-line tinge. Just one song out of the gate and we already get a couple of lyrical nods to Kiss, as Kulick drops line that name-check "War Machine" and "Shout It Out Loud" -- ironically both songs that pre-dated his joining the band.

"Ain't Gonna Die"

The Kiss love continues with Gene Simmons co-writing and singing this track. As usual, fame and immortality are on Simmons' mind and the songwriting moves through twist and turns and some experimental orchestration at the end. Recommended for fans of the Demon's 1978 solo album.

"I'll Survive"

Pink Floyd-like strumming dominates this track that addresses Kulick's experience getting shot by a stray bullet a few years back. Sample lyric: "The warm, smoking gun couldn't take me away / My life was spared, I was blessed that day."

"Dirty Girl"

Ah, now we're finally getting to the heart of the album with this cut and the next. "Dirty Girl" is pure pop-rock paradise in the vein of Enuff Z'Nuff or some of Paul Gilbert's King of Clubs album. There's a strong, melodic footprint and perhaps the best, sweetest-sounding vocals of the entire album, courtesy of the Knack's Doug Fieger (of "My Sharona" fame).

"Final Mile"

A heart-achingly beautiful song that has harmonic shades of "God Gave Rock N' Roll to You." If you loved the vague classical feel and dual-guitar harmonies of Kiss' cover of the Argent song, you're sure to love "Final Mile" too.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

American Angel's Vanity CD review

American Angel may be a name that's new to many, but this New Jersey-based band has a history that dates back to the 1980s.

Italian-American frontman Rocco Fury is the only remaining member from the group's original lineup, but he's teamed up with paesan Mike Bisulca and several other talented Garden State musicians to resurrect this one-time dominant force in the North Jersey club scene. Fury's unique voice remains the driving force behind Vanity -- American Angel's first new studio album in 15 years.

The revamped lineup makes it clear that this ain't no nostalgic '80s love fest from the album's start. "Fixed in a stare and you're standing there / Never getting back to 1984," Fury sings to the naysayers during "Pantomind," a balls-out rocker that features electrifying stabs of bottleneck guitar and propulsive drumming. In fact, the only track that smacks of retro is "Don't Wait Up," with its Ratt-like swagger and lyrical machismo.

The bulk of Vanity is thoughtful, melodic hard rock, and there are also acoustic-based rockers and ballads like "Warm Inside" and "Another Day" to showcase the band's softer side. The disc's momentum only derails during an extended retread of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "On the Hunt."

The album's second half opens a more experimental vein. "End of the Night" surprises listeners with a guerrilla Latin percussion breakdown, while the guitar work in "Permanent Pause" has a sense of musical whimsy that would make Queen's Brian May proud.

Visit MySpace for more about this resurrected Italian-American band.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ratt's Infestation: "Best of Me" CD single review

Ratt are back and sounding better than ever on this single from their forthcoming Loud & Proud/Roadrunner effort Infestation (due April 20).

Former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo takes credit for the music here and his style meshes seamlessly with guitarist Warren Demartini. From the moment the chunky, melodic riffing of the song's intro kicks in with a sublime DeMartini lead over top, you know you're in for something memorable. It's the kind of music that can appeal to longtime fans without sounding like a retrospective rehash. It's amazing that this veteran Los Angeles act can sound this good after all these years.

Stephen Pearcy's vocals sound timeless as if his voice hasn't aged a bit. He imparts every line with a bit of sly double entendre wit.

And the band's choice of producer Michael Bakette (Limp Bizkit, Chevelle, Incubus) seems a bit counter-intuitive but actually works. This is crisp, clean hair metal with an emphasis on amazing guitar and strong songwriting. Here's hoping the whole album bears out this assessment.