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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Poets & Pornstars

Poets & Pornstars

Review by Gary Hill

No, Poets & Pornstars is not some new fetish porn site. It’s a killer rock and roll band – and that’s with a “rawk.” It’s also the title of their smoking new CD. The disc provides a healthy helping of classic rock tinged jams that never cease to please. This is one of the better new rock (remember when most music coming out was just plain “rock?”) albums to come around the pike in a while. It should be noted that those without kids will probably want to listen to this only after they’ve gone to bed as there is some mature language.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2007 Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Rock and Roll
Drums lead this one in and as the other instruments enter this feels a bit like old AC/DC. It shifts to a more pure rawk sound as they move onward. This is a great riff driven groove with a strong foundation in classic rock. The vocals are edgy and nicely rough around the edges.
Get Your Kicks
Another tasty slab of classic hard rock, these guys just seem to have no end to the killer riffs. You might hear a bit of The Black Crowes on this, but there are certainly other things going on as well.
Strange
This rocker is a bit less crunchy than the two tracks that preceded it. That said, it’s no less potent. All of the music here is designed to get you out of your chair and this one should work as well as the rest. I really love the guitar solo section on this one and the fretboard is seriously on fire.
My Devil’s Song [SEXWINEWOMENSONGSUGARMAGICMONEY]
Starting with an acapella rendering of the parenthetical of the title), we quickly launch into another tasty slab of new classic rock and roll. This one has some killer short bursts of guitar fury. It also has a great chorus and a cool breakdown.
In The Dark
It seems like they are overdue for a ballad, and apparently the band figured it out. Here we get a tasty, bluesy ballad that starts with a retro keyboard texture. This reminds me a bit of old Grand Funk, but with a more modern sound infused into the arrangement. They turn it out into a harder rocking jam later with one of the coolest vocal arrangements on the disc. The classic sound that pervades the guitar solo here is stellar, too. It alternates between this mellower mode and the harder rocking to continue the track. The piano segment is a nice touch, too. The powerhouse arrangement that takes the number after this is one of the best segments of the whole album, and it is worth the price of admission by itself. This is one of my favorites on the disc, but part of that might be because the different approach makes it stand out a bit more.
War on Gravity
The intro here reminds me a lot of vintage Cheap Trick. They drop it way back for the verses and the cut has a texture that calls to mind a modern retelling of 1950’s or 1960’s hard rock. This is another that shows some variety and is another highlight.
Monkey
Faster and just a little funky, this starts off with just vocals. It’s a fun rocker that’s another change up. The bass guitar segment is a nice addition and reminds me of some 1960’s hard rock sound.
Partners in Crime
This starts with a gritty old jazz strut. The vocals come in over almost only hi-hat cymbal beats. After a verse they power it out into one of the more modern alternative rock sounds of the disc, but this doesn’t last long as a new rocking riff takes over leading us into another killer slab of the band’s trademarked hard rock. This has a great retro sound on the chorus. It’s another of my favorites here.
Spy Vs. Spy
I used to be a Mad Magazine addict, so the title alone earns these guys bonus points on this song. The killer jam that makes up this track, with its nod to “Secret Agent Man” type sounds makes it even better. I’d have to chalk this one up as my favorite track on the disc, but only by a little. That’s more an indication of how strong the whole CD is, not really a comment on this song in particular. This thing is a killer. It’s dynamic, powerful and just plain fun. Keep your fire extinguishers handy because the guitar solos on this one are nothing short of incendiary.
Earthman
They slow it down for a ballad to close the festivities. If there is one misstep on the disc, this is it. Don’t get me wrong, this is actually a good track, if a bit overproduced – you know how artists will add string sounds to ballads to add passion, but wind up pushing it over the top instead. The main problem is, I think they should have closed with something more rocking to create a more satisfying ending. Still, that’s a pretty minor quibble and doesn’t really detract much from this CD. It does rock out a bit more as it carries on, but still, this just doesn't pack the impact that some of the other material does. Of course, this isn't really the actual closer, though. After a few minutes of silence tacked onto the end we get a hidden track.
Hidden Track
This hard rocker is a bit punky and quite cool. It definitely makes for a better conclusion to the album, but they should have put it into the regular rotation rather than tacking it on the end where people might miss it. Special bonus points are issued for cowbell here.
 
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