Review Summary: The '90s strike back!
Admit it, you miss the early-'90s era MTV. Back when pop-music wasn't a bad word. Before the onslought of faceless post-grunge and nu-metal and bubblegum pop. It was a good time to grow up. If you miss those simple days of Hootie and the Blowfish and Spin Doctors and Deep Blue Something and Gin Blossoms then this is the album for you.
Junkyard Groove are not treading any new musical ground. In fact, their few experiments in anything that isn't straight ahead pop-rock are the low points of the album, but mercifully few and far between. What the band does know is how to write pop songs, that's for damn sure. And while some might call it formulaic and staid, it feels like a breath of fresh air in a world where people forget what made the Beatles so much fun to begin with.
The album starts off with the appropriately titled "Open" which attempts to sound like folk and isn't necessarily bad so much as boring, but after that it's mostly pedal to the metal for the band, which in their case means acoustic guitar riffs, bluesy electric leads, a funky but not quite funk rhythm section and vocalist Ameeth Thomas doing his best impression of a happy Eddie Vedder, singing about love lost, love found and other fairly standard rock fare.
If it sounds cliched, you're right. It is. But in a good way. This isn't the sort of music that will make you think hard about the world around you or change your point of view about war or free trade. But it's perfect for rocking out in the car or at a party or as the soundtrack to your prom or those long phone calls with your first crush.
The lyrics aren't the most thought-provoking in the world, and this coming from someone who thinks "Every Rose Has It's Thorn" is one of the most meaningful songs ever written, but Ameeth delivers them with conviction and with no shortage of catchy melodies. He is ably supported by Sid on guitar, who doesn't stray far from the blues, but has an equally fine ear for melody in his playing. Craig and Maynard provide the funky rhythms on bass and drums and while they might occasionally seem out of place they rarely press the issue and stay in the pocket.
The energy of the band also shines through on the album and the music is generally optimistic. Even the ballads of love-lost seem rather upbeat. The band's sense of humour also shows on songs such as "Folk You" and "Rock n' Roll" and they certainly seem to be having fun playing their music.
It's very unlikely that this album will be considered a classic. Maybe if it was released about 15 years before it was it would have been, but now it makes the music feel a little dated. However, for a little disposable fun or guilty pleasure (if you're into that sort of thing) this album could be the soundtrack to your next long drive.
Rock N Roll
Feels Like a Knife
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the [bootleg] status of the album, it's because the band is currently in some sort of dispute with the distributor of their album, which means that the limited run of "bootlegs" made by the band themselves are the only CDs available. All of their music is available for download though.