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AMERICAN BANG – Self-titled (Track-by-Track Review)

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american bangThere’s been a lot of musical “resurgence” over the past few years, and one area particularly feeling the swell is that of the pure “rock” band. It’s hard to look anywhere and not see somone being touted as either “the next big thing” or the “saviors of rock-n-roll,” and most of the time it’s just bullshit. On the other hand, the past few years have brought us some great bands that are fully entitled to carry the “rock” flag and do it well. SAVING ABEL, THE LAST VEGAS, and TAKING DAWN all come to mind.

Come next Tuesday, eager listeners can add another name to that list when Reprise Records releases the debut album from Nashville’s AMERICAN BANG.

With Producer BOB ROCK, the man behind Metallica’s “Black Album” along with countless classics of the past thirty years, at the boards – the band has crafted an 11-song masterpiece that is everything a rock album should be. Devoid of the cliches that often plague the genre, AMERICAN BANG’s music is thoughtful, well-written, and above all – rocks hard.

It’s a rare occasion that we do this around here, but this album is worthy of a Track by Track stream of thought breakdown:

 1. “Whiskey Walk” starts off like you’re hearing the band plug in and start jamming – and what a jam it is. There’s a loose southern-groove at work here on the verses, and it all comes together just in time to tighten up for the chorus. This was the first track I’d heard from the band when I got an “introductory” email from the PR folks in the early spring and it grabbed me right away. The gang vocals mid-song are a nice touch.

2. “Wild and Young” is the kind of song those bums from Kings of Leon try to write and fail miserably – somehow tricking people into thinking that they’re actually good. “Wild and Young” is good. It’s a perfect song for the dog days of summer. Grab your girl, hop in the car with the windows down and take to the open road in search of adventure with no real plan. Just go with it.

3. Who hasn’t done some things in life that they wish they could just erase or at least get a do-over? That’s where “Rewind” comes in. “If I could spin this world back around… If I could right some wrongs…” sings Jaren Johnston on the chorus. Amen, brother.

4. “Angels” tones it down a bit, going for an acoustic-driven angle about a girl that just can’t win. I tend to think this was probably based on someone that the band knew once upon a time.

5. “She Don’t Cry No More” is a perfect follow-up to “Angels.” The title says it all.

6: “Hurts Like Hell” sounds like Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers after downing a case of ROCKSTAR tall-boys. It’s a jam.

7. “All We Know” is another song about a tough relationship. Yeah, it’s been done before – but it sounds fresh here, although one could argue that this is the low point of the album. More like a minor pothole, but still a good song.

8. “Wouldn’t Want to Be You” carries a sultry groove and a bluesy lead. I can see some asses a-swayin’ to this one. Right in front of the stage… hands raised above the heads… you know the drill…

9. “A Man Can Change” gives me a little of that Tom Petty vibe again – but only pre-chorus. This one’s about redemption, and depending on the lifecycle of the album, could be a third or fourth single.

10. “Other Side of You” has a great opening melody that surfaces again just pre-chorus. This song is gonna end up played at proms and in movie soundtracks. It’s a lighter cut for the album.

11. “Roll On” is not a cover of the song of the same name by The Living End. It’s a song about rolling with the punches and moving forward leaving the past behind. A fitting end to the album, closing the book on this one and looking forward to what lies ahead.

While there are bands that make great albums that seldom garner much replay value, often locked in the vaults to be admired and discussed for their complexity or artistic experimentation, some bands make records that are just meant to be played often and played loud. In the past week since this album landed here in my office, AMERICAN BANG have established themselves as one of those bands. The album has been in daily rotation, rocking the house non-stop with no signs of stopping any time soon.

Rating 5/5 Stars

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