CD Baby [Release date 04.08.15]
Every now and then you stumble upon a kick ass album such as ‘Earthquake’ by Canadian rock guitarist Aron Scott, to remind us that the true spirit of rock & roll is very much alive.
‘Earthquake’ is a celebration of all that is good about riff driven classic rock. It may be retro music with some unreconstructed lyrics routed in the past, but it’s also given a contemporary currency by the unrelenting energy levels, incendiary playing and tight arrangements that never overstay their welcome.
Aron Scott is a ripping guitar player with a lived-in voice well suited to hard rock. The emphasis is always on hard hitting riffs, underpinned by a galloping rhythm section and songs that never deviate from their aim of rocking you out.
The band sets out its template on the riff driven rock and uplifting hook of ‘Sunshine And Rock N Roll’ and there’s a similar urgency to the power chord driven, hard riffs and bruising shred of ‘Gimme Little Kiss’.
The wah-wah inflected ‘Cosmic Hog’ is a Hendrix influenced piece with expansive guitar from Aron over a whip-crack rhythm section, while the stuttering rhythm of ‘Good N Gone’ has a southern rock feel, on a song about drinking whiskey, natch!
Aron switches to slide guitar on the muscular ‘The Pinnacle And The Pentacle’, another riff driven outing with an early career Ozzy Osbourne vocal and an unexpected harmony guitar break that gives the song an extra dynamic. He also switches from slide to hot picking and back again on the suitably titled ‘Rock & Roll’, which has an 80’s style hook tailor made for cruising down an open highway.
‘Earthquake’ doesn’t promise anything it can’t deliver. It rocks hard with total commitment and fills a retro classic rock niche with some style. The band pushes into different directions, especially on the tension building funk of ‘No Mercy’ which Aron resolves with a cascade of notes, as drummer Yves Arsenault shapes the song with military precision.
The album is thoughtfully sequenced to emphasize the flow, meaning songs like the big riffed ‘Blood Pudding’ gives the album a lift, not easy when you’re a band with such relentless drive. Bassist Stephanie Bouchard and drummer Arsenault lock in perfectly as Scott blazes away with a big toned attack that invites the listener to punch the air on the chanted hook.
Each track is intrinsically connected despite the stylistic diversity, while Scott’s guitar lines snake through the heart of each song, only to be reborn again later on.
They emphasize contrast too, on the percussive intro, twin guitars and stoccato rhythm of ‘Rattlesnake It’, on which the guitar solo cuts through the rhythm track with a jagged edge.
Scott also nails his mission statement on the unrelenting Thin Lizzy influenced, twin guitar boogie of ‘Freewheel’ : ‘Baby I’m an old school rocker, a mean hard stealing man’ and ’got me a fist full of dollars and bad ass rock & roll band’.
He concludes that: ‘You can roll with the revolution but you can’t stop freewheel’. It’s the kind of libertarian slogan that reflects an old school rocker on young shoulders and the kick ass album as a whole.
In old school parlance, this album smokes! ****
Review by Pete Feenstra
Pete Feenstra presents his Rock & Blues Show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Tuesday at 19:00 GMT, and “The Pete Feenstra Feature” on Sundays at 19:00
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