Yesterday I read two tweets that made me feel nostalgic. In the morning I saw one from a friend that mentioned mix tapes, then a little later in the day I saw one that mentioned the fact Bon Jovi’s “Slippery When Wet” was 32 years old that very day.
It may be that I use these reviews for catharsis, but both of those things are important to “True Rockers” in their own way.
First, taping the songs on the top 40 and later on the Friday Rock Show was how we started loving music (and anyone who – like me right now – is battling with trying to put their music library on iCloud – knows that a tape was so much easier to share than a Playlist) and second, without “Slippery….” Who knows? That album was the first time that music was mine and not my mum and dads. I was 10 years old and that was it.
There have been other bands that came since – goodness me, I couldn’t sit and listen to a recent Jovi album if you paid me – and gave me the same excitement. One of them was Monster Truck. Their “Furiousity” record from 2013 was the album of the year on the site I did before this one and now – five years later – they just may have bettered it.
It’s beauty is in its simplicity. Not some airheaded bullshit, rather when Jon “Marv” Harvey, gets in full on preacher mode and sings “I believe in rock n roll” in the first verse of the title track, he really does. We do. That’s why Monster Truck are our boys.
We’re all in on this, from the gleeful piano line to the stomping fire and brimstone breakdown, this is the shared experience that music was when me and my best mate swapped those tapes.
In fact, I am willing to bet that MT did the same. They’ve got a song called Thunderstruck (not an AC/DC cover) with the best organ in rock n roll this side of Deep Purple, which contains the simple thought: “all we want is to thrash our faces off like 1985” and wouldn’t the world be a better place if it really was that easy?
“Evolution” – the first single off this collection – features Dee Snider, which is cool enough, but also comes in with a big, swinging dick of an arena ready chorus. Even, then, its evolution, not revolution this is after. Not a lot needs to change, is its message.
“Devil Don’t Care” is southern rock done Canadian style, the harmonica here sounds like the dirtiest fun you could ever have, while in many ways “Being Cool Is Over” sums up the ethos here. The hipsters can do what they like it seems to say. We’ll be the ones headbanging out the back, cheers. Or as Harvey puts it: “I can’t change, you change, I like who I am.”
Probably the most striking thing about the quartet is just how comfortably they perform these roles. Brandon Bliss steals the show on his keyboards, and wherever the music goes it just feels right. And the places it goes surprise on occasion. They’ve never done anything quite as darkly pulsing or modern sounding as “Young City Hearts” and although they’ve done big, bluesy ballads before, they may never have sounded as accomplished as on “Undone”.
It needs saying, though, that this record sounds happiest on the clutch of three minute rockers it has. There is a trio of them towards the end, “My World” has a punk overtone in the verse, and a fist in the air chorus and “Denim Danger” (first line: whoah, this is our town, in this place we wear the crown…”) is as strident and full of beans as it gets, while “Hurricane” is slamming as you like and brims with a rare energy.
It all ends in a rather more subdued reflective, slow building fashion, but the blues overtones of “Howlin’” are topped by a wonderful solo from Jeremy Widerman and are a brilliant example of the light and shade that Monster Truck are capable of.
In fact, there is nothing they’re not capable of, they’ve already proved that, but “True Rockers” is a statement they needed to make – and they’ve made it more or less perfectly. How far will it take them? Well, lets dare to dream, shall we? Wasn’t “Slippery When Wet” some bands third full length 32 years ago.