I wanted to start with a few words on the passing of legendary New York Dolls guitarist, Sylvain Sylvain. Although I am trying not to write a monthly rock ‘n’ roll obituary column, I would not be writing this column without the influence of Sylvain Sylvain and the New York Dolls. The New York Dolls, along with the Stooges and MC5, pretty much invented everything that became punk rock. The New York Dolls were pretty much a trashy glam rock version of the Rolling Stones on more drugs in the barren wasteland that early ’70s New York City was. The first two Dolls records are classics and even some of their 2000s reunion albums, notably One Day It Will Please Us To Remember Even This, were great. Thank you and rest in power, Sylvain Sylvain.
Sugar Cones — Road Soda
On their sophomore album, Road Soda, Sugar Cones come back with 11 scoops of ballads, bangers and cliff hangers, some of which have been released in different forms. Sugar Cones are pretty much a straight-up rock ‘n’ roll band with loud guitars anchored by the elastic tight rhythm section of bassist Jeff Sullivan and drummer Alyson Hammond. “Dark Side” hits like a punk rock bomb while “Keep Walking” grooves before bursting into an arena-sized chorus. “The Game” kind of reminds me of Wax Ecstatic-era Sponge. “Bobby Dufresne starts off with a Cramps vibe before injecting some ’90s rock and even a little surf guitar on the solo to the party. The blues shimmy of “Hex on Me” reminds me of a zero carb version of The Gun Club. “Ghost Dance” is made for spirit swaying campfire disco under a hungry moon. The best way I can sum up Road Soda is every time I feel like this review is done, another tune comes on that I feel compelled to include because it’s my favorite song. I’m settling on “By My Side” as my favorite for all the adjectives that were used above. I can’t wait for live music to return to catch the Sugar Cones perform these songs live, loud and in the flesh!
Foo Fighters — Medicine At Midnight
It’s hard to believe Medicine At Midnight will be the 10th album from Foo Fighters, but I guess shit went down over the course of 26 years. I remember seeing them back in 1995 at the old Westminster St. Lupo’s, opening for Mike Watt, before they had a record come out. That show only sold out because the opening band had Eddie Vedder, the biggest rock star in the world at that time, playing drums. Now the Foo Fighters might be the biggest rock band in the world — circle of life, I guess. Medicine at Midnight is packed with stadium-ready thumpers like “Making A Fire” and “Waiting On A War” that will appease the masses. The tunes on Medicine At Midnight have more of a groove than past records. “Holding Poison” has a new wave feel before darting off to a weird prog-rock-like bridge. “Cloudspotter” rocks with a seesaw groove to get wild to in your kitchen on a Saturday night. My favorite is the title track, which sounds like something unearthed from David Bowie’s archives. It’s not really surprising that Dave Grohl and company would have a Bowie sounding tune because — come on, who doesn’t like The Thin White Duke? What is weird is you’d expect from a big rock bans something that sounds like Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust or Alladin Sane eras. Nope — this is straight up “Let’s Dance” era Bowie. “Chasing Birds” is the lone ballad and has a psychedelic tinge in a Byrds-meets-Tom-Petty-at-a-bowling-alley way, albeit with some cliche lyrics. Usually when a band achieves the commercial success that the Foos have, albums tend be phoned in as an excuse to make bank on tour (cough, cough KISS). Medicine At Midnight, while not being their best record, is a rock solid album that shows the Foos can evolve while maintaining what makes them great.
The Queers — The Queers Save The World
Speaking of bands that have been around forever, The Queers have a new album just in time for their 40th anniversary. They’ve almost doubled the lifespan of their heroes, the Ramones. It could be argued that one only really needs to hear Love Songs For The Retarded and Don’t Back Down from The Queers to get their best batch of their Ramones meets Beach Boys anthems. But if Mike Love’s Beach Boys can cover “Rockaway Beach,” then there is no reason The Queers, who do a superior cover, can’t release new records. I wasn’t expecting much from The Queers Save The World when I popped it on driving around in a snowstorm, but it blew me away. Singer/Guitarist (and really The Queers) Joe Queer still writes funny infectious tunes like “Attack of the 5 Foot Bitch” and “Fanculo A Tutti.” The Queers take on white supremacy in “White Power Feud in Atlanta” and it’s awesome! Don’t know if I’m more surprised that The Queers didn’t already have a song called “Bubblebum Girl” or that it’s the best thing they’ve done since “Punk Rock Girls.” I don’t care that it is a cover. I don’t think any other band would write songs called “Cheeto in a Speedo Eating a Burrito,” “Young Dumb and into Iron Maiden” or “Hong Fucking Kong,” but hey, it works for The Queers. In “We Love Our Fans,” they refer to their fans as “mental midgets following us around” in the most loving way possible. The Queers might not save the world, but they do make it a hell of a lot more enjoyable!
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