Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Unclean-The Eagle


Somehow I managed to post this review when I wasn't even nearly finished with it. I could blame that on a lot of different things, but it's frankly just one of those "oops" moments. Here's the other thing. You see I am working on what must be my third draft of this review. Why? Well, usually I'll just review an album and write down whatever comes to mind, touch it up and ship it on out. With "The Eagle" I second guessed myself and felt like I needed to hear it again to see if my feelings had changed. Now, I'll say that even though I like to think that I'm somewhat/kind of knowledgeable when it comes to Ohio's rock and heavy metal scene it never fails that I miss out on some supposedly well-known/well-traveled band like The Unclean. Bands like this simply escape my radar. "No Excuse Necessary", the self-released debut album from The Unclean, was released back in the fall of 2008 so you'd think that in four year's time I'd have heard of this rock group right? Part of the problem is that there are just too many bands in Ohio to keep track of and the other problem (which really isn't a problem as it's what I fought for) is that, being a single father and all, I don't get the chance to go to as many live shows as I'd like to anymore. I'm just not up to date anymore when it comes to my own state's "name" bands. And The Unclean, as it turns out, have come to be known as one of Ohio's better live acts! Of course I found all of this out AFTER I listened to the band's sophomore release (as it's better to listen to promos without any preconceived notions). We'll come back to the "live" aspect of this band in a little bit. For now, before I even touch of  what works and doesn't work on "The Eagle" (and why it has taken me over an hour and a half to do this review), I should introduce the member's of this part-time band. The Unclean features guitarist/vocalist Bremmy (ex-Sofa King Killer, Honkeytonk Damnation), bassist Burns (ex-Rue, Nailblack, Fistula, Sofa King Killer) and drummer Frank The Tank (ex- Search Block). If you don't recognize any of the names, or for that matter the bands, don't worry about it as everything's cool. We'll just say that there is some real talent to be found in the ranks of  The Unclean and leave it at that. The promo rightly points out some of the band's obvious influences (ZZ Top, Humble Pie, Thin Lizzy and Motörhead) and let's us know that comparisons have been made between The Unclean and those classic acts. Being mentioned in the same breath as any of those four acts should be considered a honor. I'm throw in my two cents as far as the influences go. Overall "The Eagle" is the sound of a band drawing from not only those four acts (especially ZZ Top), but T-Rex, Mountain, Ted Nugent, The Steve Miller Band, Slade and even Steppenwolf. So, it's kind of funny to hear music like this coming from a band that features a member of Fistula! More and more though it seems as if these kind of  part-time "rock" bands are all the rage so it's really not all that unusual I guess. Let's get to the actual album though. As I mentioned I listen to this one a few times just to see if my opinion changed any. Things start off on the right foot with the number opens "On We Go". The track is heavy on the Motörhead love while also paying obvious homage to ZZ Top. As the second cut kicked in I envisioned an album like Audrey Horne's "Youngblood". That was truly my hope as I love good rock albums. "Live For The Day", beside reminding me way too much of "Photograph" by Nickleback, kept the ZZ Top admiration going. So did the third track, "Million Dollar Jezebel", and, to a degree, the forth cut, "Away Too Long". These guys attempt to create a mixture of beer-soaked hard rock, toked-up classic rock and sleazy blues-rock which, on paper at least, sounds really cool right? By track number five though I find I'm getting kind of bored. That was how I felt the first time I listened to "The Eagle" and, unfortunately, it was more of the same on my second run-through of the album.  Here's part of the problem. If you're going to play the blues you have to live the blues. I'm not saying that these guys haven't had a rough go of it as I don't know any of them personally.I'm also not saying that I'm some kind of expect when it comes to the blues just because I have some blues in my collection or because I've been to places like Nashville and heard "THE BLUES". Rather I have a pretty good suspicion that this blues-based hard rock band comes across better in a live setting. This is the kind of music that you might find in a really good dive bar. You know the kind of bar (and band) I'm talking about. It's the kind where, after a few cheap beers have you feeling nice and buzzed, the music really starts to click. I'm going to even suggest that you could even be sober and The Unclean would work better live where there could be a welcoming audience to feed a track like "Been Gone". On tape it felt flat. Live though, with the energy of the crowd charging up the venue, it probably sounds almost perfect. I'd wager this band sounds better live and that, studio-wise, they just haven't tapped into that energy yet. While it might sound as if, other then the album's opening number, I didn't like anything about "The Eagle". "On We Go" wasn't the only cut I liked. "Nothing Left To Say" had a bit of Lemmy to it and "The End", other then the last few seconds of it, is an absolutely beautiful instrumental track. So I did enjoy some of what The Unclean laid out for me. Next time around though I'd suggest either recording everything live in the studio with no dubs or, better yet, recording a live album where the band is sure to be charged up! 

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