Some might say that growing old is a curse but when it comes to loving music getting older can also mean having the privilege of seeing a music genre birthed and then evolve. It also means that younger people and musicians who enjoy a particular genre of music, like metal, will likely delve into its past to discover not only the main influencers but also the innovators, the ground breakers. When that happens it’s almost expected that a group of young musicians will latch onto a sound that harkens from an earlier time, re-imagine it and release their own interpretation. A current example of this is Saskatoon’s Sheepdogs who have brought the world a new version of pre-plane crash-era Lynryd Skynryd. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of that band because I was actually partying on the planet the night that the plane went down and the news was broken on Toronto’s Q107. For my tastes a band that wants to get my attention doing a new version of an old thing has to do so in a way that is captivating — being derivative isn’t good enough.
Having said all that and with apologies for the long intro, I have to admit that I was tempted to place The Electric Revival’s Presenting: The Electric Revival in the category of cool-sounding albums that are good for a trip down memory lane but have little staying power in terms of crafting something memorable. As one might expect from the band’s moniker there is something here that is being revived – the question is, what?
The tone of the album is set during the opening track, “Rock n Roll Breakdown.” The tune is a furiously paced two-minute rocket ride that evokes the proto-punk attitude birthed by the legendary Iggy Pop in the Stooges seminal 1973 release “Raw Power.” That isn’t to say that the songs are sloppily played or poorly recorded – it’s really quite remarkable that the band’s performance and production manages to capture the retro vibe in a digital age where so many recordings sound sterile and flat.
The rest of the album shows great pacing with good balance between heavier/faster/louder songs in the vein of the opener and slower more moody pieces like the second track, “Black Widow.” Three tracks on the “2nd side” of the album (see, I’m old) pay homage to the blues – an admirable aspiration in any R&R revival. “Outlaw Blues” is a hard and dirty blues rocker that serves as a reminder that metal was birthed from playing the blues too fast and too loud, a prescription that worked out well for Zeppelin and Sabbath back in the day. On the subsequent track, “Goodbye 1979″ things stay bluesy but the vibe mellows considerably.
Overall Presenting: The Electric Revival scores a solid four out of five (4/5) with the only criticism being this: pretty much all of the vocals are processed with what sounds like a combination of chorus and reverb and this is put to good use in creating that late 60’s, early 70’s retro vibe. However, I think that I would appreciate the album more if a couple of tracks out of the twelve featured a less processed approach on vocals, but that’s just me. Head over to iTunes right now and buy this excellent release.