Tuesday, February 16, 2016

La Chinga – Freewheelin’

Do you ever long for the days when rock ‘n’ roll was fun?  I do…I mean, I love my Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath more than ever, but sometimes I need a break from all that war and peace and heaven and hell and phantoms and wizards and long for something that takes me back to when rock ‘n’ roll was fun.  Van Halen, Thin Lizzy, Foghat, Cheap Trick, Kiss, AC/DC, Ted Nugent…the late 70’s and early 80’s was an amazing time for a kid like me growing up with an older brother with a huge record collection full of the greatest music of possibly the greatest time for new music ever.  I’ve told the story many times of sneaking into my brother’s room under threat of certain painful torture to borrow without asking his cassette of “Live at Budokan” and hearing those first words out of Robin Zander’s microphone “…hello there ladies and gentlemen!…hello there ladies and gents are you ready to rock!?!”   I’m sure 8 year-old Riffcaster would’ve screamed out “HELL YES I AM!!!” if he wasn’t so busy air guitaring along to the music.  Well rock fans, Vancouver’s La Chinga has given us a gift to take us back to a time of large collars, larger bell-bottoms, and huge riffs.

Freewheelin’ is the kind of album that deserves to be blasted while cruising with your buddies in a ’77 Dodge Tradesman shaggin’ wagon with mag wheels, bubble windows, and a kickass stereo system.  Blending elements of Thin Lizzy and Foghat with the punky desert vibe of Fu Manchu, this is a rocking good time of an album.  “Gone Gypsy” kicks the album off with a bang, and goes down fast and smooth like the evening’s first ice-cold can of PBR.  “Mother Of All Snakeheads” oozes tons of Thin Lizzy attitude like a modern sequel to “Johnny The Fox Meets Jimmy The Weed”.  “White Witchy Black Magic” is a catchy-as-hell wokka-wokka-wahfest that could easily be pulled from any classic Pat Travers Band album.  “Stoned Grease White Lightning” is a killer bit of hooch burning as it goes down with killer grooves and fiery leads as it takes you along for the ride “going nowhere in the fast lane”.  “Faded Angel” allows a chance for La Chinga to stretch out a bit with a fantastic acoustic-guitar and vocal intro before igniting into a rocking mid-tempo straight ahead rocker.  “Mountain Momma” continues the laid-back feel with a bit more Southern flavor, with acoustic guitars and mandolin creating a mood smack dab between Zeppelin and Skynyrd.  “War Cry” begins with a trippy Hendrixy backward guitar psych riff before exploding into a full-on stomping war dance.  “K.I.W.” channels equal parts early Van Halen and early AC/DC with a hooky guitar melody over a chugging rhythm section, with the lead guitar channeling Ace Frehley over the outro.  “Right On” is a whiskey fueled arena anthem with an addictive heavy blues riff and killer call-and-answer choruses that would be right at home on any self-respecting late 70’s-early 80’s Nazereth album.  Album finisher “The Dawn Of Man” is a moody stone-age bluesy psych rocker dripping with vibrato-fueled guitars backed by a Bonham/Jones “Kashmir” style beat, complete with a false ending full of “whoo-oohs" behind a spoken desert acid-trip that winds back up to full tilt before the buzz mellows out as this gas burning Camaro ride fades into the desert horizon.

Lead guitars are tasty and shredding throughout, the vocals run the style gamut from Plant to Roth to Brian Johnson, and the rhythm section is as sledgehammer heavy as they should be.  So if you’re heading out on a midnight run from L.A. to Vegas or just to the liquor store for a 12 pack of cold ones, a carton of smokes and a bottle of booze, your soundtrack would do well to include a dose of Vancouver’s finest rock ‘n’ roll.


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