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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Eighteen Wheels Burning

Tweak'd Out, Strung Up & Redlined

Review by Gary Hill

The whole power trio with a bluesy sort of hard rock texture is big in certain circles these days. That’s the type of music that makes up this disc and I am really enamored by many of the bands who practice that sound. Eighteen Wheels Burning come really close to making that grade, but somehow they fall just a little short. Their sound is perhaps too raw at times. It also doesn’t change up enough to keep my attention for the whole disc and their riffs aren’t strong enough to make up for that failing. All that said, this is a good disc with some strong music on it. It’s just that taken as a whole it drags on way too long without really fully winning me over. I look forward to hearing what these guys do next, though because there are some great moments here and they show a lot of promise.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Mary Jane Is My Only Friend (Sometimes It Feels Like)
This pounds in a lot like MC5’s “Kick Out the Jams.” They turn it towards something more like Black Crowes meets Clutch. It gets more metallic at times. It also gets pretty noisy at times. This is well produced, but overall quite basic and raw.
Topless
This starts with an even rawer approach. It is the metallic power trio taken to its primal base. It’s hard edged and very much like MC5, but with a more modern recording. Comparisons to Hendrix are certainly appropriate, too.
Tears of the Moon
Mountain meets Clutch in an MC5 groove on this piece. You might want to mention Sleep and Electric Wizard here, too. They break it down later into a smoking blues rock jam.
King of the Ian Hill
Here’s another screamer. The general motif doesn’t change much here, but this is perhaps closer to something from ZZ Top at times, but there’s plenty of Sabbath in the mix, too. I would have expected to hear some Judas Priest on this, since Ian Hill is the bassist for that band, but I can’t make that out. Still, I love the title and this is another great slab of modern stoner metal meets power trio. 
Grand National
Stripped down and pounding, this one feels the closest to old school hard rock like this of anything so far. It’s another scorcher and is one of the rawest cuts on shows. It doesn’t work as well as some of the rest in my book, though.
Mobscene
Faster paced and more fun, this is a real screamer. It’s one of the highlights of the disc. It has more energy and is just plain cool. There’s an almost punky nature to this. The bass heavy instrumental segment is a nice touch and as it turns echoey I am somehow reminded a bit of Captain Beyond. 
Third Reich Trucker
They get bonus points for the clever title here. As the Geezer Butler-like bass wanders behind this bluesy, mellower jam, it’s obvious they don’t need the bonus, though. This is a great change of pace and one of the highlights of the disc. It fires out after the extended intro into something closer to the music of the rest of the disc, but the changeup has been effective. We get more of the stripped down bluesier arrangement later on, too. This one contains the title of the disc in its lyrics, meaning that it might be considered the title track. It’s got some of the most blatantly Sabbath-like music on the set, but there’s also a killer Robin Trower-like guitar solo. 
Cockblocked
The Ramones meet Chuck Berry and the MC5 on this raw rocker. While it’s got a lot of Sex Pistols in the mix, and it might not be the strongest cut here, it’s a good piece of variety. This is definitely a punk rock song. Alright, so it might be too long and diverse to be punk, but come on, what else can you call it?
The Wheeler
Cream is in the hawse! They take us through a few changes and alterations and this is one of the noisier cuts on show here. It’s another smoking number, but by now the formula is beginning to wear a bit thin. 
Ama
This is a good tune, but by this point I’ve had about all I can take. They don’t change it up enough and what’s come before has turned my brain to mush, so I can’t really absorb this. Taken by itself this is a good track, but you just reach a point where it’s enough. And that was a couple songs ago.
 
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