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Non-Prog CD Reviews

The Afterdarks

Blood Sweat and Gears

Review by Gary Hill

Let’s start with the positives on this album. The Afterdarks put together a smoking bunch of songs that alternately call to mind such artists as The Ramones, Billy Idol, Elvis Presley, George Thorogood, The Cramps and The Lords of the New Church – along with others. They create fiery versions of the punky side of rockabilly. There’s not a song on here that doesn’t purely rock. “So, what’s the problem?” you might ask.

The downside to this disc is that sometimes more is not really more. Had they cut the disc shorter it would have worked better. Why? Because there’s only so much you can do with three chords. That’s why music moved beyond the original rock and roll and why punk rock had a built in short shelf life. It all starts to sound the same after a while and this set isn’t immune to it. That said, it’s very late in the album before the monolithic nature sets in. Also there are a couple acoustic songs near the end that, had they been set earlier on the disc, would have gone a long way to keep it from ever sinking in. I should also mention that the last three tracks on my copy skip – so I’ve done my best to review them without really hearing every moment of them.

 

All in all, though, this is a strong disc. It should please fans of rockabilly and punk rockers, too. I just think that a little restraint and not trying to pack as many songs as possible into the set would have made for a stronger release. Of course, in the age of MP3’s I’m probably one of a dying breed who actually listens to whole albums, so it might be a moot point.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2010  Volume 1 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
No Cops No Stops

The screaming guitar rocking sound that opens this is fierce. The cut eventually works out to something more like modern alternative rock mixed with old school rock and roll. The guitar solo is classic.

Hotroddin' Gravediggin' Man
Billy Idol’s removed from the mode of the previous piece. In the process we get some Elvis Presley added to the mix. This is another powerhouse. There’s a killer breakdown on this, too. The track does earn a minor lyrics warning for parents, though.
No Good
Take the opener. Add in some Ventures at the intro and at other points in the piece. Then blend some nearly metal elements with this. Throw in a little bit of The Lords of the New Church and you’re probably pretty close to the sound of this rocker.
Ode to A Girl
This one’s more pure rockabilly than anything we’ve heard to this point. It’s got equal parts Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and George Thorogood. Of course, there’s also a little bit of Stiv Bators on the vocal line.
Black Cat
If Stiv Bators had been the lead singer for The Cramps it would have probably sounded a lot like this. 
Be My Baby
This old school rocker still has plenty of punk in its midst. It’s more purely rockabilly than some of the other stuff here. I love to echoey sound this has. 
Heads or Tails
Even more fully rooted in pure rockabilly, this has a killer guitar solo. 
Evil Ways
The intro to this calls to mind The Black Crowes, but when it launches out into the song proper it feels more like a merging of Billy Idol, The Stray Cats and George Thorogood. 
Double-Fisten
A little more pure rockabilly in texture, this still has plenty of punk rock fury in its arrangement. It’s actually quite a fiery piece and has some killer guitar soloing. 
My Haunted House
A fast paced rocker, this is very much in keeping with the fired up rockabilly sound the band does so well. 
Rise and Roam
This one reminds me a lot of George Thorogood, but with more fire and a bit of a more raw sound. 
Mean Machine
The rockabilly elements are strong here. It’s got a lot of energy, but overall doesn’t differ a lot from a lot of the other music here. Still, I can almost make out a little bit of Ted Nugent on this. 
Blue Movie Queen
A killer echoey sound makes up this number. It is another that reminds me at times of The Lords of the New Church. It’s got some of the best sounds of the whole disc woven into it. In fact, this might well be my favorite number.  
7 Floors Down
This rocker has some of the Elvis Presley vibe and also some Thorogood. There’s a lot of pure rockabilly here. 
48 Secrets
Here’s another slab of punk oriented rockabilly. I can hear Billy Idol on this a bit again, but also some Stiv Bators. Somehow the melody here reminds me a bit of The Lords of the New Church’s “Method to Our Madness.”
Done Told Ya Twice
With a metallic crunch, this is a killer rockabilly gone punk number. It’s not that different from a lot of the other stuff here, but when it’s this tasty, who cares. I also hear hints of Nugent, especially on the feedback laden guitar parts. 
I Ain’t Dead Yet
Another heaping slab of fiery old school rock and roll, this is one of the stronger pieces here.
Green Goo Baby
We get a lot of Stray Cats in this, but also some Cramps. We get another minor “bad word” warning at the end of this when someone says, “clean that s**t up.”
Devil’s Poker
Elvis is back on board a bit here, but so is Stiv Bators. It’s a raw rocker that’s a bit different than some of the other music. It’s definitely more punk oriented than rockabilly. 
Candyman
This rocker is a lot closer to Thorogood. 
Ima Gonna Haunt You
I particularly like the echoey guitar riff driven intro to this, and overall this has a little different texture – making it stand out. The guitar solo section on this is especially noteworthy and the whole cut gets a heavy dosage of fury just after it. 
Patience
This is another that’s more in keeping with Thorogood – even though a bit rawer. 
Cheerleader Massacre 101
Here we have more of the same. The hard edged old school rock sound is starting to wear just a bit thin here. It’s not that this is bad, far from it. It even feels a bit like The Ramones. It’s just that the aural onslaught is starting to all blend together.
Memphis Is to Blame
Here’s another that’s more like Thorogood. Again, it’s a good tune, but it’s all beginning to sound the same.
Graveyard Vixen
With the Bo Diddley/George Thorogood/Stray Cats thing in full form, this one is so strong that it somehow rises up beyond the rest of the bunch, even this late in the set. 
End of the World
This benefits both from the infusion of energy we got with the last cut and from the fact that it’s another that has a little bit of The Lords of the New Church in its rockabilly approach. It’s actually a standout. The breakdown is cool with a Ventures meets country music feeling to it. 
King O' The Sinners
There’s a healthy dosage of surf rock in this tune and it helps to bring this one way up above the din. It’s one of my favorite tracks here and another that makes me think of the Lords of the New Church at times. It’s also another that earns a lyric warning – and a more pronounced one than the rest. 
Hey Woman
An acoustic rockabilly number, this has a lot of Elvis Presley in it. It’s a good tune and a nice piece of variety. I think it would have really helped the disc to avoid falling into monotony if it had been given a position earlier in the set. 
No Good (Live at Big Willies)
The first of two live cuts here, this is a more raw rendition. It’s got a lot of energy, but the whole monotony thing is really setting in quite well by this point. 
King O’ The Sinners (Live at Big Willies)
Here we get another live recording. This one holds up better than the first one.
Feels like Nashville (Day Late, A Dollar Short and Out of Tune)

An acoustic rocker, this is another that really provides some variety. I would have loved for this to have shown up somewhere earlier in the CD lineup. It would have made for a stronger disc.

 
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