If It Ain't Broke, Break It!
by Mark Hensch
Five Star: A look at albums
that are so good that they impress even the most cynical of critics. Very
few albums are superior enough to obtain a five star rating but occasionally
a band slips through the river of mediocrity that is the modern music industry
and they produce an album that restores our faith in the future of rock!
This series is a look at such albums.
I have never been a fan of "purist" rock
and roll. I generally am not a big fan of the classics (with a few exceptions)
and it takes a lot for me to appreciate the so-called genre of ROCK. I
am telling you, the reader, all of this as it is a sign of what a sweet
album Starwood has put out, and I hope the review you will shortly read
is a testament to the goodness of this band.
Chances are you've never heard of Starwood,
who is based in Los Angeles and lives up the Hollywood scene. Maybe this
is just a smooth marketing ploy, but the lifestyle thankfully unlike more
renowned rock and roll acts takes a backseat to the music. These guys seem
to give off a vibe of fast women, partying, and the like, but again, even
their most self-destructive tendencies are overshadowed by their music,
at least for now, and that is something people looking for good rock need
in this day and age. Named after the "open-minded" club Starwood in Hollywood,
which was a major hot spot in the 1970's, Starwood chose the name to reflect
the club's lack of discretion in which stereotypical individuals (punks,
preps, hippies, ect) were allowed in (thus giving the band a moniker that
reflects an open approach to change in rock) and also to bask in the majesty
and glory of Golden Age Hollywood.
Playing vintage Glam Rock with a modern
twist, the band is scheduled to release their debut album, If It Ain't
Broke, Break It! in a mere day's time (July 27, 2004), and having snagged
an advance copy I have had about a week of this stuff nonstop.
And what good stuff it is. "Subculture"
is purist glamour rock, with lines like "I don't wanna be no president/I
don't want no government/I don't need to pray to no monument/I play a stolen
guitar in a cold basement!" summing up the ROCK worldview. It's upbeat,
and frontman Lizzy has a strange warbling sneer that is interesting. The
other band members (drummer Joey Scott, bassist Marten Andersson, and lead
guitarist Joe Steals) provide near constant backing vocals to Lizzy and
it gives the band a nice "Us Vs. Them" philosophy. If you don't like classic
riffs and jams for guitars, group vocals, and upbeat ROCK of the glam variety,
stop now. This CD requires a open mind and a good outlook on life.
"Won't Back Down" is a full-throttle proclamation
of independence with plenty of vocals all around and solid 70's guitar
"What's Your Damage" slides in with a building
drum beat, plucking riffs, and a slow, jazzy series of strings that make
the song. The snide and arrogant chorus is so fun to sing along with it's
"All My Girlfriends Have Boyfriends" is
the weakest track on the album, but that isn't saying very much; it's still
a fantastic song. It has a lighter, saddened kind of vibe that is almost
whiney and ego-stroking. It definitely is a testament to the rock star
lifestyle of yesteryear.
"Social Zero" is a genius song. It bursts
in with a teeth cracking solo and some sweet driving riffs before a rolling
bass line verse and some spoken rhymes. Lizzy soon takes it up, and the
band hits an awesome chorus. A rocking solo towards the end makes this
track even more righteous.
"If It Ain't Broke, Break It!" is a more-laid
back rocker that has an exploding chorus, great sing-alongs, and enough
group vocals to fill an Irish Pub. Backlash has that old-school punk riffing
that I love, and is more purist glam rock.
"You're So Real" is a high octane power
jam that has oodles of guitar parts packed in to please pretty much anyone.
"Bad Machine" is an awesome choice to close
the CD; it has bluesy riffs that start and stop, sweet group choruses,
and top notch guitars. It doesn't really matter thought, this entire album
is full of good stuff.
A review of this CD can't do it any real
justice. I loved it, and I feel most people, coming in with an open mind
at least, will appreciate it as throw-back rock done right. In a world
where bands can parody the past of rock and not be chided, artists like
Starwood come roaring in with swagger and brass music that says ROCK IS
NOT DEAD. It's loaded with awesome guitars, sneering vocals that would
do say Axl proud, and it somehow still seems fresh and original. Maybe
it's because something of this nature hasn't been made by too many artists
in the last few years, or maybe it's because this band takes their music
seriously and it gives it a whole new level of greatness missing in less
serious ROCK bands. I know I have constantly capitalized the entire word
ROCK in this because that is what Starwood is; it is ROCK. These guys go
straight for the windpipe and never let go. Heck, my only gripe is that
this CD is a blistering half hour of music compressed into a tiny nine
tracks. I already want more of this stuff. But hey, don't listen to me,
listen to the album. Go to your CD stores starting tomorrow and see what
I am talking about. I think you will pleasantly surprised.
- If It Ain't Broke, Break It!
2. Won't Back Down
3. What's Your Damage?
4. All My Girlfriends Have Boyfriends
5. Social Zero
6. If It Ain't Broke, Break It!
8. You're So Real
9. Bad Machine
the band's homepage to learn more
this CD online (On sale at post time for only $6.99!)
Check out these MP3s - "Subculture"
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