Wake Up Laughing
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Once you get past the hurdle of Music Band hindering themselves with one of the least attention-seizing group names in recent memory, you can dive into the sound created by this difficult-to-pigeonhole Nashville trio. There you’ll find a strange brew concoction on this, their first official CD, which comes after a previous 2014 debut cassette and 7” (both now sold out).
Music Band is a basic rock and roll trio that grabs pieces of other acts, in particular Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (the lead vocals have that Petty drawl/twang), Green Day’s spunky punk and power pop a la Cheap Trick. Add layers of garage grime, inject hooky choruses with snazzy dynamics worthy of the old Who and you’ve got a fun, frisky eleven song set that thrives on sheer enthusiasm.
These guys are having a blast, whether it’s by adding a skronky noise guitar solo and ooh-ooh backing vocals to “Fortune Guns” or going Black Sabbath riffage on our butts with the instrumental “Scarab Music Pt. 1” then getting (The) Jam packed on the driving vocal and galloping horsepower of “Pt. 2.” There’s also the jazzy and dreamy opening to “Money” (not Pink Floyd’s classic) which transforms into percussive pop-rock psychedelia. We’ve got New York Dolls glammy rock too on “5th Street” and even scuzzy blues that keeps the swampy “Keep Living” down south.
In the debit column are vocals that aren’t particularly distinctive and compressed production that doesn’t do these songs justice. You don’t want anything too slick for Music Band but more sonic punch would help tweak these tunes and push them into the often slap-in-the-face intensity the trio strives for. In other words, if it’s rock and roll you like, you’ll find something, actually quite a few things, to ignite your pilot light … but you’ll need patience.
After a few spins it’s clear that Music Band is smart — not just smart alecky. They are driven to deliver sharp, passionate rocking with no frills, yet enough attitude and intensity so that when they hit your local rock club, they’re the best, tightest and most exciting outfit playing that night.