"Let It Beep," Royal Bangs (Audio Eagle)
It's loud. It's noisy. It is in love with distortion. This is Royal Bangs' new album "Let It Beep." The Knoxville band's first new recording since signing with Audio Eagle Records (owned by Patrick Carney of the Black Keys) is freaky and fun.
Produced by Bangs vocalist/keyboardist Ryan Schaefer, "Let It Beep" is like that thing you were expressly told not to put in the microwave oven - it set off some sparks and you recognize what it is after being zapped, but who knew it would end up so warped? Such is the case with the Bangs' take on power pop.
The song "Poison Control" has some distorted guitar string scraping (or the electronic equivalent) that aims to raise the hair on the back of your neck - and succeeds. "My Car Is Haunted" masterfully begins with a funky beat that is then layered with muddy electronics, junkyard-sounding percussion, Schaefer's vocal wail and, finally, a blast of guitar. "Tiny Prince of Keytar" comes together when guitar notes follow (and almost mock) the vocals. The nearly instrumental "Gorilla King" is all beats and notes that sound like an Atari game on psychedelics, but catchy.
The muddiness sometimes adds a sameness to the songs. There are several moments that you wish the band's sense of melody would be allowed to stand out. And, digging the lyrics out of the mud can be a challenging venture. Still, "Let It Beep" is fuzz you can love.
"Man Overboard," Ian Hunter (New West)
As leader of Mott the Hoople, Ian Hunter helmed one of the all-time great rock 'n' roll bands. He's probably best-known today from the use of his song "Cleveland Rocks" on "The Drew Carey Show" and the author of the oft-covered "Once Bitten Twice Shy."
After a fairly slack period in the 1990s, Hunter has been again creating vibrant music.
While there are moments of great rock 'n' roll, "Man Overboard" is more thoughtful than raucous.
It's on "Flowers" and the desperate title cut that Hunter's lovably ragged vocals really nail it.
"Man Overboard" may not be as vital as Hunter's work with the Mott, but he's still in the game.
Wayne Bledsoe may be reached at 865-342-6444 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also the host of "All Over the Road" midnight Saturdays to 4 a.m. Sundays on WDVX-FM.
© 2009, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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