Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Living Things – Ahead of the Lions

I stumbled upon these guys one day while flipping channels past VH1 or something and dug their 70’s-styled, Gary Glitter-esque groove. Picking up this CD, I see that they have almost perfected this style. I’m not sure how well this has gone over with the masses (I have no idea how popular they are), but it is pretty appealing to this aging rocker!

Starting off with staccato bursts – with long pauses between – of distorted power chords, the Things then blast into the raging punk-fueled rocker, “Bombs Below”. The singer might be a little over the top, but the song maintains a catchiness and they add a sing-along “go! Go! Go!” to get everyone involved.

“I Owe” doesn’t quite click with me, though it has a groovy lick and chanting acronyms, so it’s not bad, just not among the best. Still has a good, rockin’ beat and it short and to the point.

Very influenced by Gary Glitter’s classic drum-stylings is “Bom Bom Bom”, which is supremely infectious. The groove never stops and you can’t help but be drawn in! “New Year” is a lot poppier, but still had tremendously heavy guitars, good dynamics and good playing throughout.

More Glitter-isms in “God Made Hate” with a simple chord progression and a memorable repetition of the line “ignore them orders”, making them sound reasonably subversive as they rock you! “End Gospel” is more of the same hard rock with a catchy “I need to stop to be stopped” chorus. After a while the singer does become a little monotonous and samey – even with the catchiness of the tunes – and while the guitarist has a great tone, he is more of a rhythm player than a lead man, which probably only means something to guitar snobs like me. They make the best out of these limitations, and I still dig the stuff a lot, but it does limit the variations that they can provide.

Anyway, as I say, I still dig what they’re doing and “No New Jesus” barrels through with strength and intensity and again the title is not the chorus, which makes the songs names harder to remember! Opening with an almost dissonant guitar lick, “March in Daylight” plays more with dynamics, moving from quiet picking to downright screaming!

“Keep it til you Fold” is more of a ballad and while it builds a bit, it doesn’t match the walls of sound of the other tunes. Nice variety here and the guitarist is adding more interesting textual sounds. They up the tempo for “Monsters of Man” and use more keyboards than guitars for the basics, making this one of the most different tunes on the record! Very short, too!

Back to the power chords with “On All Fours”, which is an anti-establishment number with plenty of punk trappings and wild screams! Good high energy! They close with “I Wish the Best for You”, a slower number with de-tuned guitars that growl through parts of the song making it a depressing sounding semi-ballad. Interesting way to end a record!

Overall, great power and good songwriting. A little more variation will make these guys monsters! This is well worth getting, though!