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The Bangkok Five - Who's Gonna Take Us Alive? Review

The problem that dogs a lot of new Garage music is the fact that it's mostly terrible. Most of these bands, like the Strokes and the White Stripes latch onto the wrong notions of Garage rock and completely miss the point. Not so with LA's The Bangkok Five. On their new album, Who's Gonna Take Us Alive, these Hollywood gutter Garage punks kick the door in and ransack the place. Keeping the energy and not worrying about the cooler-than-thou posturing, the band fuses style and substance in a rollicking major-label debut. Forget trends or style, whether they have any or not, The Bangkok Five rock in that most satisfying of ways, completely.

The more radio-friendly version of neo-Garage is glutted with minimalist bands that rely more on winks and giggles than on any sort of substance. The Bangkok Five waltz right in and stomp all over that minimalist philosophy. This record is about balls out Rock and Roll, not haircuts or who the singer is dating. Who's Gonna Take Us Alive comes complete with huge riffs, well-placed solos, and enough hooks to fill your tackle box. All the same, the band doesn't rely solely catchy convention. Some of the music here recalls Queens of the Stone Age as much as the MC5 or Guns N Roses. Not surprising since The Bangkok Five have previously worked with Stoner Rock stalwart, Chris Goss. The record sounds like what an Eagles of Death Metal record could sound like if Josh Homme took them a little more seriously and added some of his other band's monster riffs to the equation. That's not to say that WGTUA feels staid, buttoned-down, or mechanical in any way. Down and dirty Rock and Roll never sounded so loose and fun. 

The sound on the entire records bears mentioning. From the gigantic tone on the riffs, to the responsible use of electronic elements and samples, the band has nailed the production on this record thanks to Sean E and Ryan Boesch. The guitars jump right out into the front of the mix, as they should, and everything else falls into place around them. Add to that well-balanced song-writing that features paint-peeling guitar in just the right ratio to more spacious arrangements and you've got a killer album. Leather jackets and guitars transcend any kind of trend if the music backs it up. A bled-together mix ensures that chaos reigns supreme, but the individual instrumentation is still solid. Little guitar and drum fills pepper the recording and keep things interesting on repeated listens. Finally, a record that never gets boring or overdone.

Attitude often dominates Rock and Roll, too often without anything to back it up. The Bangkok Five have attitude in spades, and they deliver with songs from the heart that club you over the head with diamond-studded swagger. More than just Buckcherry without the coke-fueled energy or the Strokes without the "I just had a Stroke" laziness, the Bangkok Five throw their own brand of straight-forward Garage rocking punk into the ring. It might as well be the towel for some of those other bands. 

additional article: From Lowfive to Bangkok Five

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