Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reviews:: Lions in the Street self-titled

Without launching into another pointless debate on the value of art, musicians today aren’t pushed on pedestals like they once were. With bloggers dissecting records to lukewarm levels before they even get released and the simple fact that going to a rock show isn’t the life changing experience it once was, it’s hard for any act to gain the cache needed to become legendary. It’s funny, but on Metric’s new record when Haines wonders if you’d rather be the Beatles or the Rolling Stones, it’s painfully obvious that the statement holds much more weight than someone asking ten years from now if we’d rather be Metric or Nickelback... or U2 or Coldplay or Radiohead.

It’s easy to assume that cheap recording techniques makes it easier for bands to put out shitty music and downloading and has made it easier to find new bands (and easier to dismiss them), but for me what’s gone is the freedom people got from listening to songs decades ago. Rock n roll used to be loud and hopeful, or beautiful and sad. Irony and self-pity weren’t the dominating themes, so music was often the only escape from the constricts of life, love, or war. Good songs got played on the radio, were popular and artists weren't ashamed of that.

Which I guess is why it’s so perfect that Lions in the Street play music my parents could have loved – not now (jesus, don’t get my dad started on the state of music if Fucked Up can win anything), I mean twenty years ago. The Vancouver band has escaped the chains and shackles of a terrible record contract with TVT and long since forgotten the big studios they were pushed into and now record in more gritty locations more suited to who they are. Their EP – Cats Got Your Tongue (review) – was recorded in a basement, and channeled the sounds of The Stones and The Allmans perfectly, plus they threw in a healthy dose of R & B for good measure. It was the type of 5-song affair that reminded you that rock wasn’t dead, and proved that not all rock revivalists were simply rehashing classic sounds.

Flash forward to their new self-titled record, and happily all I need to say is that the sound remains the same. They boys aren’t afraid to melt your face off with huge riffs and intricate guitar work, but never jump into the dangerous realm of wankery. No, the band just bangs out classic rock jam after classic rock jam. If the huge guitar, sing-along chorus and harmonica that explode out of the gate on Moving Along don’t wake you up, I’m not sure anything will, but after opening on such a high, you'd expect some sort of slip. When it comes to Lions in the Street it’s the consistency that's most remarkable and why it's damn near impossible to turn the record off.

I’ve heard 14 songs from the band, and not one is a throw away. The banged out piano that duels the guitar on Gold Pour Down or supercharged, road ready anthem Already Gone power you through the first third of the record before you have a chance to breath. Luckily, they hit you with the morning after balladry of Lady Blue, a song that could be fused into countless Cameron Crowe movies if the film maker every stumbles upon LITS.

You can’t help but think of barbeque, muscle cars, juke box favorites and high school nights when you sink into this record. The killer harmonies on Walking Back to You oozes a swagger and confidence that most bands don’t have the chops or the balls to pull off. They launch into a full on jam for the last half of the song and your head starts nodding and that little white man’s overbite takes over your face. They keep the pedal grounded on the single, Hey Hey Arlene, another scorcher that benefits from classic rock n roll guitar work and Jerry Lee Lewis piano work.

I could go on and on – in fact I already have – because every song on this record takes you to a time where music mattered and musicians were people you wanted to hang out with, not a bunch of pasty faced, sad bastards trying to drag you down to their melancholic realm. No, even when LITS slows it down and gets runover by love (All Because of You), they splice in some beautiful, subtle steel to peak your attention. I know the boys from Vancouver had their one brush with celebrity and the results almost ruined them, but if they keep hammering out classics, they aren’t going to have a choice in the matter. Gigs will be packed, drinks will be guzzled and for a few brief hours, they will make us all feel alive again.

MP3:: Lions in the Street - Hey Hey Arlene
MYSPACE:: http://www.myspace.com/lionsinthestreet
BUY:: http://www.lionsinthestreet.com/

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Posted at 8:40 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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