Frontiers Records [Release date 10.07.20]
There was a time Enuff Z’Nuff’s lineup seemed to go into an endless revolving door spin, but now, with founding member Donnie Vie apparently leaving for good, Chip Z’Nuff has assembled a solid, talented line up. Guitarist Alex (Little Caesar/Shark Island) Kane and producer, engineer, guitarist, Tory Stoffregen, and drummer, Daniel Benjamin Hill have all been with the band a while now. There’s an interesting sprinkling of guests too…Steve Ramone, Mike Portnoy, Ace Frehley and others.
It’s a tight, tight combo, who’ve learned, under Chip’s tutelage perhaps, that in the world of rock’n'roll, less is often much, much more.
The band’s 2018 recording, “Diamond Boy”, was designed to shift the commercial emphasis onto a new generation of rock fans. It worked, pushing the album into the UK and US Indie charts. The writing was razor sharp (thanks to the overdue return of Znuff’s mojo), the production tight, the performances deft and collusive. Clearly, some bitter lessons were learned over many years of unremarkable albums.
New album, “Brainwashed Generation” is much better than its dated title suggests.
‘I Got My Money Where My Mouth Is’ is a beautifully pieced together poprock concerto. ‘Help’ (not that one) matches up. Its misplaced rush of pop optimism comes with a steely spine and White Album/Abbey Road harmonies, and like several others, it’s full of the band’s sonic signatures – unexpected chord changes, meticulously crafted hooks and a simplicity of phrasing.
Built on one of ZNuff’s sublime, down-shifting chord sequences, ‘Fatal Distraction’ isn’t far behind. It tilts the Difford/Tillbrook Squeeze axis to the point that a wonderful tune and some entertaining wordplay come tumbling out.
Z’Nuff shunts us down a few sidings from time to time, where we can enjoy watching the passing traffic – ‘It’s All In Vain’ and ‘Stranger In My Head’ have an easy going, pedestrian gait – then suddenly we’re hooked up to ‘Drugland Weekend’s dive down the (White) Rabbit hole, and ‘Go’. Any song that can rhyme Shark, Oligarch and Patriarch deserves a mention.
But the album’s standout track, by some distance has to be ‘Broken Love’. Wrapped round a slender melody, it’s not a love song as we know it, but a sweetly and softly sung lament, as Z’Nuff mourns his late brother. We may be tired of the comparisons the media makes when describing EZN’s albums, but songs like this one sound like ELO or the Beatles extrapolated to their logical essence … just a tune, a lyric, and a mood, all merged into a four minute magic spell. That’s how it’s done. ****1/2
Review by Brian McGowan
The latest Josh Taerk live session was streamed on Sunday 21 November. Next session 12 December. The video above was a Halloween Special, streamed 31 October.
David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 GMT, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 31 October 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 GMT as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 2 November 2021.
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From 1 December the Featured Albums and Power Play segments will reflect those artists and tracks featured during 2021.
Featured Albums w/c 15 November 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 MEMORIA AVENUE Memoria Avenue (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 FANS OF THE DARK Fans Of The Dark (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 HANNAH JAMES & TOBY KUHN Sleeping Spirals (Jigdoll Records)
Power Plays w/c 15 November 2021 (Mon-Fri)
THE FORGOTTEN Interstellar (FiXT Noir)
QUILL Riding Rainbows (indie)
DEAD REYNOLDS Uninspired (The Fort)
CAVALCADE Dreaming About (Golden Robot)
HANNAH ALDRIDGE Sinking (indie)
GREYHAVEN All Candy (Rude Records)
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