Review Summary: Just when you thought true hard rock was dead...
Every so often, a record comes along that surprises you. Whether it’s because it adds something new to the fold, mixes two previously separate genres to good effect or simply revitalizes a stale musical type, an album with this configuration is invariably a pleasure to the listener, and guaranteed to get repeat spins on multiple players.
Recently, just such an album has popped up in, of all genres, classic hard rock. No, I’m not talking about Airbourne’s occasionally fun but ultimately too repetitive No Guts, No Glory
; I’m talking about The Last Vegas’ Whatever Gets You Off
, one of those albums that gets you pumped up and makes you want to get in your car and drive at excessive speed down a deserted highway somewhere while listening to it at full volume. And while feeding this desire is by no means recommended (especially if you’re an unexperienced driver), listening to this album is very much so.
The Last Vegas are part of the “new batch” of rock’n’roll bands, having formed in the dwindling years of the past century, and, as of this release, already have quite a few albums on their backs. But while those offerings were moderately interesting within the glam-punk genre, it is undoubtedly with Whatever Gets You Off
that the band achieve the best album in their career. Boosted by a relatively new singer (Chad Cherry, who joined in 2008 and recorded this album’s self-titled precedent) and boasting production from the illustrious Nikki Sixx and Marti Frederiksen, along with DJ Ashba, the band embark on a full-on rock’n’roll orgy, with the results being much less messy than would be expected, but no less satisfying.
The tile track and lead single for this album already sets the mood, coming in with a Cultish swagger and a bit of AC/DC evident in the angular riffs. Soon Cherry unleashes his voice, and tints the music with his mixture of Josh Todd (from Buckcherry), Johnny from New American Shame, Tom Keifer of Cinderella and someone like Vince Neil or Joel O’Keefe of Airbourne. However, the highlight here is the guitar work of Adam Arling and Johnny Wator, with the high point being the ripping, one hundred percent hard rock solo. All in all, one couldn’t ask for a better beginning, and the track serves as both an early standout and an excelent presentation card.
Fortunately, however, the group do not fail to deliver on the opener’s promise. Sure, the next couple of tracks are somewhat nondescript (even if I’m Bad
showcases another influence, 80’s glam rock); but the quality quickly picks up again with the fun, breezy Loose Lips
(with some unusually good bass work from Danny Smash) and mandatory power ballad Apologize
, which starts off sound like an eerily accurate pastiche of Buckcherry, only to develop into an exact copy of one of Cinderella’s similar numbers. This is followed up by second highlight Cherry Red
, a track which at times sounds like a re-hash of the title song, but is saved by what is probably the best chorus in the album. Without letting the ball drop, we then immediately get another whopping chorus in Another Lover
, which couples AC/DC riffing with “oooo” backing vocals to great effect.
At this point, we are midway through the album, and so far the ride has been thrilling. And while the tail end of the record is somewhat less exciting than the early goings, it never ceases to excite, the way, say, No Guts No Glory
does. Instead, it gives us songs which, while not great, are at least entertaining, varied, and at times even above-par (Love Me Bad
, which goes from a Def Leppard groove to a fast section to a jazzy interlude and back again with effortless ease). At the end, we are left exhilarated and fully satisfied, having just experienced one of the most thrilling voyages hard rock has taken us in in a long time.
All in all, then, The Last Vegas firmly stake their claim in the rock’n’roll game with this album. Sure, not everything’s perfect, as there are clearly derivative moments along with the occasional childish lyric. However, while not all songs are stellar, you’d be hard pressed to find a decidedly weaker one. Dirty Things You Do
comes closer, but even that is perfectly endurable, if a little bland. The rest are sufficiently varied and fun to make for an effortless and pleasurable 45 minutes, for once justifying the lavish praise and causing a certain confusion as to why the group is labelled “AC/DC worship”. Uh…that would be Airbourne. These guys are closer to “Buckcherry worship” or, more accurately, no worship at all – they’re their own band, and good for them!
So there you have it – just when you thought true hard rock was dead, The Last Vegas deliver a whopper of an album, which might even have been genre-defining had it been released 20 years earlier. Would I have paid full price for this one? Probably not. But budget price, legal or illegal download? Hell yeah! If you’re into hard rock or rock’n’roll, give it a listen, you won’t regret it. As for me, I’ll keep on the lookout for the group’s next, and hopefully even better, offer.
Whatever Gets You Off
Love Me Bad