Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Album Review: The Last Vegas - Eat Me

They say you can't judge a book by its cover, and that's true, sometimes. It's foolish to say that the picture drawn on the front somehow has a magical bind to the content within, but that's not to say that they're completely divorced. When you see a cover, it does reveal something about the artistic sensibilities of the people responsible for what you're about to consume. A cover that is ridiculous, or stupid, starts things off with curiosity or skepticism, which I feel is warranted. If a band like The Last Vegas has an album cover that is a rainbow birthday cake with a sexual innuendo written on it, that's the kind of thing that, right or wrong, puts me on the defensive before ever hitting the play button.

But that doesn't mean I won't give the music a chance to redeem itself. We open the album with "Bloodthirsty", which rides a simple guitar groove through a bland verse, into an even more bland chorus. There is barely a hint of effort put into constructing anything interesting either in the riff progressions or the melodies. It is absolutely a band going through the motions, but with wonderful production behind them. The band's guitar tone is that clean yet dirty sound that should more often be borrowed from AC/DC, and it's the best thing about this record.

The rocking numbers here try to ape the AC/DC formula, but they miss out on what made that band legendary. Yes, simplicity can be a boon, but those parts have to still be sharp, focused, and catchier than hell. AC/DC understood this, and made a career out of taking one bluesy riff and turning it into a stadium-filling call to arms. The Last Vegas, either through a lack of interest or ability, can't match a fraction of that skill. The simplicity of the songs isn't the problem, it's the fact that they never hit upon either a riff or a chant that sticks in your head. They're what you would expect a local band playing that style to sound like, not a band with a label backing them.

They're more interesting when they take a few acoustic detours, but only because there's the hope of something better coming along. "Along For The Ride" has a Zeppelin-esque mood, but even there, the song just lacks the ability to punch up to its weight. There's a ton of possibility brimming up, but the songwriting burns out before the song can ever approach a hook. It's disappointing to hear, because in the first minute of that song, I can hear what The Last Vegas could do well and make a name doing. The fact that they didn't, or couldn't, is a mistake.

As the press release accompanying the album states, the album was written and recorded in a three week stretch the band had free between other engagements. That is not something that should have been stated publicly, because it makes it clear how little thought and effort was put into these songs. They might be using that to hedge their bets if the record isn't well-received, but all it says to me is that they didn't want to wait until they had material strong enough to put out. That, more than anything else about this record, is the worst part.

So, "Eat Me", like the message in "Alice In Wonderland", is a pretty strong indicator that we need to get far, far away.

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