Wednesday, December 2, 2015
Album Review: Voodoo Circle - Whisky Fingers
If you're paying attention to the European rock scene, specifically the kind that pays heavy homage to the 80s, you'll notice that it is quite incestuous. There are countless bands now that share members, which has in a way diluted the music, and made it harder for anyone to stand out with an individual identity. Voodoo Circle is not immune to this, being a band fronted by Pink Cream 69 singer David Readman, and now joined by producer and songwriter Alessandro el Vecchio, who has been a behind-the-scenes part of more records than I can even name. The move is good for Voodoo Circle, but does it come with a cost?
"Trapped In Paradise" opens the album with a fast riff, and organs thickening up the sound. Readman and del Vecchio share the vocal duties, and then the chorus hits, and leaves me scratching my head. It sounds like it wants to take off, but it's over as soon as it starts. It almost sounds to me like the tape was played back at the wrong speed. It's an odd start, to be certain, although the elements on their own show plenty of promise.
The next song, "Heartbreaking Woman", throws together a dramatic opening riff, a verse than sounds like pure 70s KISS, and then a chorus that ventures headlong into the blues. For two songs in a row, there's something odd about the songwriting that doesn't feel quite organic, as though they were assembled from random parts the band had lying around from previous writing sessions. I can't shake that feeling listening to "Watch And Wait (I Got My Eye On You)", which segues between acoustic guitars, arena rock, and plugging bass without much in the way of segues. The main hooks of the song, yes there are two, are really good, but they're put together in a manner that has me scratching my head.
I really enjoy the ballad "The Day The Walls Came Down", which plays into every cliche of power ballads, but I couldn't care less. Cliche or not, power ballads work for a reason, and this one does too. They're often the only time that rock bands settle down and focus on a melody, which is a complaint I can register for a good portion of this record. The band is rocking, and doing the expected things, but the songs aren't anchored with as many hooks as I would like to hear, which is a bit of a surprise, considering who is now in the band.
I'm not saying the record is bad by any stretch of the imagination. It's certainly enjoyable to sit down and listen to, but it feels a bit faceless, given how much of this kind of music is being put out. I don't hear anything in Voodoo Circle, either in the songs or the sounds, that I could pick out of a lineup. They sound like many other bands that are playing the same style, which means that it will be easy to like them, and hard to remember them.
Maybe I'm being a bit harsh, since I've been revisiting all the great albums of the year to compile my year-end list of highlights, but compared to what has already come out, "Whisky Fingers" just doesn't hit me as hard. It's fine music, but I'm looking for something more.