Album review: JUNKYARD – Old Habits Die Hard

JUNKYARD - Old Habits Die Hard

Acetate Records USA [Release date 22.11.19]

American rock band, Junkyard has had its share of lineup changes, but a solid core of David Roach, Patrick Muzingo and Todd Muscat has held the line since 1987. Co-founding member and Roach writing partner, Chris Gates, left in 2007, several years after this material had been recorded and shelved. They’d signed to industry giant, Geffen, but got shown the door in 1991, when hard rock descended into a morass of North West Pacific handwringing. Their impressive second album, “Sixes, Sevens And Nines” had bombed.

The band recorded several hours of material for the third album, but it only made as far as the CDR Burner. And now, 27 years later, this unwieldy stockpile has been pared down to 12 lean and compelling tracks.

And if anything it underlines the ridiculous nature of label/band politics. Yes, rock is a niche genre, but it’s clear even after only a couple of tracks that “Old Habits…” is a more confident and elaborate piece than the previous two outings, the sign of a band more at ease with its protean nature. But it fell out of fashion.

The prime example is the balladic and beautiful ‘Tried And True’. There’s some great writing going on here, matched by performance, as each chorus builds to an emotional moment, allowing the band to confirm its own musical voice.

Tempo as well as calibre was clearly a key decision point in selecting these tracks. From the busy, barbed guitars, cowbells and neat little axe motifs on ‘Pushed You’ to the the slink and strut and dirt under the fingernails of ‘Blue Sin’. The band seem most at home though on the gritty, scorched earth bruisers like ‘Fall To Pieces’, and the uncompromising, hard edged guitar attack of ‘Holdin On’.

Writing and recording a great rock song is like trying to capture lightning in a bottle. Junkyard don’t always succeed here, but it’s good listening to them try. ****

Review by Brian McGowan

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