Wednesday, July 02, 2014

mini-review, The Aquabats "Charge!"

The Aquabats Charge! represents a major sea change in the cartoony goofball horn driven So Cal ska bands sound.
Ditching the horns completely for this record had to be a challenge but the bats were up to it, as the record is a completely solid spin from beginning to end including references from several decades of hard rock, 50's 60's and 70's sci-fi and horror movie soundtracks.  Jabbing at Axl Rose post song outros, simultaneously competing with Devo with unforgettably catchy synth-pop guitar anthems on their own turf,
this disc will definitely be a mainstay in my tray for a long time. Vocals are inflected with Van Halen harmonies that Michael Anthony would be proud of himself. The record includes a beautiful rock ballad, 'Waterslides', on par with DefTones 'Cherry Waves', and as affecting as 'Every Rose Has Its Thorn' without the schmaltzy cheese sentiment. It leaves these ears with that feeling.  The song calls out awesome dub reggae vocal type breaks that make me want to fish out my old Black Uhuru stuff.  There are plenty of So Cal nuances as well from burritos to mexican candy, to the imagery described in the ultimately poignant 'Hot Summer Nights'.  Dont fret, the satire remains prolific, the humor intact, the weirdness still there, but does not overshadow the performance of the tightly written and loudly produced material.
Hats off to Ricky Falomir on drums, he had monster shoes to fill with replacing superfreak Travis Barker, Falomir does not fail here. Shoes filled.
The bass playing of "Crash" McLarsen locks in well with Falomir as well, no simple feat either. The criminally underrated guitarist Chainsaw, Prince of Karate, lines up a simply great palette of sounds, nodding to surf rock, sci-fi movies, Andy Summers of The Police and dozens of other throwbacks. The angular jabs in 'Mechanical Ape!' poke through my ears to the center of my brain, mocking me with a tone that I could never achieve.  Jimmy The Robot on keyboards does a great job of taking up the space left by the absence of horn arrangements.
Rarely do I personally invest so much time and personal due on a band or a particular single record, but if I had to, this would be in my top 10. Its one of the best straight-up rock records I have ever heard.


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