Review by Larry Toering
The HazeXperience doesn't exactly come out of left field for me, with Not Purple, because I've been anticipating this for a while, as it happens to be decades in the making, actually. However, I certainly did not expect to hear such an amazing collection of tunes the likes of which are on display on this long awaited release. The band features Leonard Haze himself on drums and occasional vocal parts, with his long time friend, front man Johnny Gunn on guitar and vocals, Stevie “Keys” Roseman organ, piano, and “as little possible synthesizer,” as they like to call it. The lineup is rounded out by two bass players. Putting a name to the men handling the bass duties find Matt Sanguinetti who also provides backing vocals, and an appearance by Ben Wong. I have to say this project has to be heard to be believed, it's that good. A solid showing by all is equally applied throughout this amazing release. Let's just say that even if you have followed the work of Leonard Haze all these years, through Y&T, Ian Gillan, and even a more recent stint with Montrose, you will still be surprised to not only hear plenty of influences concerning those bands. But they also bring a fresh new approach altogether, that goes from blues rock and psychedelic factors to some funkier influences to round it out. Everything about this is simply awesome, as it comes highly recommended by this reviewer. So, needless to say this is one sizzling hot to trot project with a killer product under their belts, and it seals a bright future for this band. It gives them a massive foundation, in a business that never stops reminding you that you're only as good as your last record.
|Track by Track Review
Wasting not a second, this sets the whole attitude off in perfect fashion. Being new to Johnny Gunn myself, I did not expect to hear such a bite, but he cuts through this like a knife on guitar and vocals. This is a very powerful track, but then that is the case for everything on the disc. After hearing this, it's hard to resist what's to come.
|Ain't Got Nothing|
This goes a step further indeed, with a track that just has so much more going for it. The drums kick way up and so does the whole band for that matter. Even this early, it's not hard to tell that this is a quality disc. There is a lot of great guitar work here too, with some killer wah wah effects by Gunn.
|Far & Wide|
At first listen this just isn't what it goes on to be, as it becomes one of my chosen favorites in every department. Now this is just plain awesome in that many ways. We get a very well put together track here. This blends rock and blues with a bit of funky rhythm section and a big chorus. I liken this to Lenny Kravitz somehow, as that seems to be the influence in the vocal department. But whatever it is, this disc is getting really good.
|Look At You|
This reminds me of a few other artists, as well. For some reason I get an Extreme vibe here, very reminiscent of them in the vocal department. That’s a compliment because that is a sound I have always liked. This is almost a ballad, but not quite, as it rocks along at a fairly slower pace, and it introduces a Hammond organ solo which gives it a big bottom end groove. Another killer track, I'm loving this all the way. You will feel “on top of the world right now” as you take this in with your senses.
This instantly contains some different effects to open it, and it goes into a sassy arrangement with some extra vocal chanting applied. The title suits this well. You have to like how it all plays out in the end. Who couldn't help but at least grin at this? More big grooves are included to go with the laughter, and some harp and piano soloing give it a real bar band effect that won't quit. It really seems the band can do no wrong by this time. Everybody will laugh, and “have a good time,” here indeed.
|It's Me Again|
A lovely piano motif sets this track up very well, as it takes on more of a ballad-like approach than anything to be heard thus far. This goes into epic mode to say the least, and finds Gunn in top form with a searing guitar solo. This band appears to have it all, by the time this is heard. This includes more complementary organ chords that cut through like a knife, as it winds back down to a piano outro to match the beginning of this beautiful song.
|Yeah Yeah Yeah|
Kicking right back up without hesitation, this contains a lot of humor. The message is, “don't complain, things could be a lot worse.” This is just so much fun, and it's hard not to chuckle with pure laughter at it. All the time, though, the listener is still enjoying what it has to offer musically, as they let it rip through the mid section like madmen. Knowing the humor of Haze very well, I make him out here in the vocals.Things get even funnier at that point...how lovably zany, indeed. This is Leonard Haze through and through.
|Big Red Kangaroo|
Now this contains a story with which I'm familiar, but the general public would not be. So, as to not give the whole thing away in spoiler fashion, I will just say that it is about a personal experience that Haze himself and a former band mate had on tour in New Zealand with Ian Gillan. The story apparently involved a seven-foot tall Kangaroo that drank beer. There is a killer part in the middle section where a radio news cast comes on and adds a wild effect to the whole thing. This is so great that it's unreal.
|East Bay Thang|
In case there hasn’t been enough awesomeness by now, this will surely rock your socks off in style. It’s another blues rock track, this time about the bay area. A particularly recognizable song, Haze and Gunn can be heard doing this live. Here it comes out all the better, as it really gelled in the studio. It's an east bay thing, of course, with a lot of their craft coming together in every way. It features excellent guitar playing and even a bit of hip hop application in the vocal department. Once again this contains smoking keys by Stevie Roseman. They even mention the Oakland coliseum in this very urban track. It's hard not to love every note of this, along with the rest of this entirely killer set of great rock and roll.
I think one might easily guess what this has in store, with its ominous title giving enough away. It starts with some welcomed synthesizer effects, and goes into a what is essentially a heavy guitar/organ duel of sorts. Then just before it gets three-quarters of the way into things, Haze himself takes it out with one of the greatest in-studio drum solos I've ever heard. It's that awesome. If you like this fantastic drummer and know his work already, you will find this to be quite the gift, as the whole band come back at the very end for grand exit. And after you hear this, you will have been Hazed to the stars and back.