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West of Corey

Slammed

Review by Gary Hill

The whole world of bluesy hard rock of the 1970s was so iconic. That iconography always included a male lead singer. Well, this act travels many of the same musical roads, but with a female singer in the personage of Janine Taft. A lot of female singers excel on the mellower stuff, but seem to leave a bit to be desired on the hard rocking edge. I think that Taft's voice shines the most on the rockers. Bassist West Foster and guitarist Corey Birkholz round out the lineup, with various drummers performing on the songs of the disc. The music here many times crosses into the metal zone, but even gets into prog zones at points. I nearly put this under metal, but I think it lands more often in the zone of hard rock than metal. Whatever you call it, this is a potent, but not perfect, release.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
No Resistance
Pounding in hard rocking driving, there is a real retro rock vibe to this thing. It's riff driven and has plenty of 70s rocking sound with some hints of 80s hair metal. The breakdown bit mid-track features some cool bass work.
Misty Mound
This is even harder rocking and more furious. There is a real metal vibe to the number. It calls to mind a more metallic Led Zeppelin in some ways.
Course of Things to Come
Intricate acoustic guitar brings this number into being. There is a real dreamy kind of metal ballad vibe as the non-lyrical vocals glide across the introduction. It builds out from there with a bluesy sort of feeling at its heart. As this builds out there are some proggy elements in the mix.
Star Gazer
A cool bass line begin this screaming hot tune. We're back into decided metal territory here. The guitar solo on this thing is so tasty.
Consider This
The hard rock guitar sound that opens this has a real blues rock vibe. The cut works out from there with a lot of style and passion. While this is a good tune, I don't think it stands up to some of the rest here. It does have a Zeppelin kind of thing at play at lot of the time, though. There is a dropped back movement that works pretty well, and I dig the guitar solo section that brings it out of that. An even more fully dropped back section later has some cool bass work and gives way to a return to the song proper.
Halfway to Walker
Percussion brings this into being. The rest of the band join with an energetic, but melodic movement. There is a real classic rock vibe on display here, and this is a cool tune. It gets some metallic crunch as the electric guitar joins after a time. There are some hints of prog rock at times on this thing.
Stranger in Love
This thing is a killer rocker that definitely leans on the metal side of the equation. There is a bluesy rock grind to it.
Alligator Breath
This number is seriously metallic. In fact, I'd consider it metal, and it reminds me a bit of Tara Lynch's recent album.
Silent Dove
More of an acoustic guitar based ballad, this has some rocking moments. While not a highlight of the set, it does bring some variety to the proceedings.
You’re So Bad
This is another hard rocker that has a lot of Zeppelin in the mix. This is a powerhouse tune. I love the bass fills later.
End of This Love Song
I dig the balance of mellower and harder rocking stuff we get on this thing. The opening section has some proggy jazzy elements, but after a time it grows into a real metallic screamer. Yet, those mellower elements re-emerge here and there. This is another strong tune on a disc full of strong material.
Crosshairs
I almost think the set would have been stronger had they left this piece off. Don't get me wrong, it has some good moments, but this kind of hard rocking number is something they've done better several times on the disc. This one feels just a little awkward and redundant.
 
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