Released: March 2014
Taking a look as Toseland’s website, it’s pretty easy to predict what these guys are going to be about. Leather jacket? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Tattoos? Check. I somehow doubt their debut album, Renegade, is going to be a collection of background bossa nova. The tour dates leave me with high expectations of the music, with an extensive list of upcoming dates across the UK, including support slots with Status Quo.
Life Is Beautiful kicks the album off with a hefty groove and a very raw, Appetite For Destruction era Guns N Roses influenced sound. Only a minute and a half in, and you’ve already had a chorus and guitar solo pushed forcefully into your ears. James Toseland has a suitably rock and roll voice, similar to that of Black Stone Cherry’s Chris Robertson, amongst others.
Gotta Be A Better Way follows in much the same way, combining uptempo drums and beefy riffs. The standout of this tune is the guitar solo, snaking from one phrase to another. It feels as if it may fall apart at any point, but carries on regardless. Bloody excellent. This kind of music isn’t known for any degree of subtlety or subtext and track three, Singer In A Band, proves this. It’s a decent tune, but feels a little generic compared to the opening two tracks. Nothing dreadful, just nothing special.
Crash Landing provides some more interesting chord sequences to keep the listener interested, and generally catches the ear a bit better than the previous track. By this point I find myself wanting something a little more complex, all instrumental performances are solid and well executed, but the songs are a bit predictable. That said, this band are hardly trying to be anything too sophisticated, so I admire them for sticking to what they enjoy.
Token ballad Just No Way is a tight performance by all and has the right elements on paper, but it’s just too cheesy and painful to listen to. In ’88 LA they’d be on to a winner, but this might be a little too late. Comin’ To Get Ya is another good song, but follows the same throwback formula that the first half of the album creates. That said, the honky bass sounds great here. Good Eye Blind, Burning The System and Emergency all provide big riffs and powerful vocals, with Kingdoms providing a slightly different, more contemporary sound, which is a welcome break by this point.
Finally, Renegade rounds off the album with a head nodding riff to kick off, but the rest of the tune it’s a bit too close to Bon Jovi to seem original. Another great guitar solo to note here though.
This album is a decent offering, but fails to seem original in any way. There’s just too much that seems dated and irrelevant. Great for putting on loud in the car, but nothing particularly special