Monday, December 28, 2009

Liquor Boxx – To The Face

Liquor Boxx wants you to think that you’ve walked into the Whiskey on a night that Motley Crue wasn’t playing. Without a headliner that night, Liquor Boxx is the badass band that you’ve never heard of, that makes you put down your beer when all you really want to do is be drinking, and makes you want to go over to the stage to check out the snakey guitar lines that the guy is playing.

Opening track "Ask Me to Stop" lays it out in low-fi sound: Kevin Mace digging into the vocals, voice track dry and direct without a lot of sweetening, Johnny Stoneking’s powerhouse drumming coming trhough loud and clear despite being buried in the mix. The band throws in little things that will show up later on the CD that tell you these guys are a little more practiced, a little more talented than your average bar band.

"Cheap Sex n Vodka" starts with a guitar riff that sounds as dirty as a dying smoker’s final rattle but once Stoneking’s drums come in, the guitar and drums roll together like a freight train, with the buried Martin Farrelly’s bass keeping the song moving along at a furious pace. Mace is singing about “drugstore cowboys and superstars” and the song has a bootleg vibe and a nice whammy bar infected solo with some nice chops to it.

"Tomorrow" betrays Creedon’s love for Jimi and Stevie Ray with a blues tinged fingerpicking that can’t help but echo a time when the guitar was the master instrument of rock and roll, the guitar and the men who played them. It’s a beautiful piece, with Mace’s best singing on the album. "Mr Midnight" comes from the same space: delicate playing on the strat and keeping the rest of the band on the back burner til the ride up to the chorus. "Rock Your Soul" on the other hand could be a high speed outtake from The Experience with Stoneking’s drums echoing Mitch Mitchell more than Tommy Lee and Creedon’s guitar flying through a bluesy riff with some tasty fills along the way.

"Evil Girl" could be an outtake from Morphine with the bass and drums opening, but then Creedon’s strat makes its presence known with a snake-like laid back riff. The band makes good use of both double time and half time to build up the menace of the song, never losing the bluesy foundation. If this is an "Evil Girl," she’s likely to be the kind that Mace not only can’t give up, but he’s going to keep chasing .

Coming in up tempo and wearing it’s burlesque on it’s naked sleeve is "Numb Your Eyes," clearly the most fun on the CD. Somehow the grungy LIQUOR BOXX has the chops to not only wander into the lounge but pull off a rockabilly beat at high tempo. Then they’re smart enough and talented enough to break it down two minutes into the song to bass and drums and percussion and build the whole leaning tower of jumpin’ jive back up to full speed. How many wedding must these guys have played at the day job to get these chops?

"Up n Down Me" makes a good closer, taking one of Creedon’s riffs but instead of riding it, the find some space in the back beat and the band sits in the pocket, finally giving Farrelly’s bass some space in the mix. Creedon’s guitar after the chorus is a great exercise in keeping his fingers going at a scary pace and during the solo takes him to classic rock nirvana exercising some great chops along the way. Anyone who has played will recognize how sweet it is for him to back the distortion off and get a great ringing tone to counterpoint the edge and echo on the solo. You'll think that you really can smell the cheap beer and the old cigarettes in the background. hell, this should make you think about picking up a pool cue as well.

--Rock Iguana

Buy here: Liquor Boxx

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