Smash Fashion – Big Cat Love

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The wantonly enigmatic sound and presence of US rockers Smash Fashion has always made for a compelling and thrilling proposition since forming in 2004 and new album Big Cat Love provides no deviation in that potency. In fact it takes it to richer captivating levels with another collection of riotously varied and adventurous fusions of rock ‘n’ roll. The album sees the band again reaping the blooms of various decades and styles of raw and boisterous rock music, hard and glam rock as home within their invention as fifties rock ‘n’ roll and power pop. It makes for a tantalising proposition from the band’s third album, one which even with a couple of lulls in its persuasion is a stirring captivation from start to finish.

Hailing from Los Angeles, Smash Fashion consists of musicians drenched in experience and successes. The band is led by vocalist/guitarist Roger Deering alongside bassist Nigel Mogg (ex- London Quireboys), drummer Repo (ex-Smack), and guitarist Lloyd Stuart Casson (ex- Rock City Angels). Their previous full-lengths A Gentlemens Guide to Sophisticated Savagery and Don’t Pet The Sweaty Things in 2006 and 2009 respectively, set the band apart and into an eager spotlight for their expansive sound whilst last year’s single Blame It On The Brandy more than hinted at the promise of and raised anticipation for the new release. It was potential easily realised by the again Electricpudding Recordings released album, a confirmation of that clue and of the ever hungry invention and appetite of a band which has graced stages with the likes of Ian Hunter, Arthur Lee and Love, The Zombies, Cheap Trick, Psychedelic Furs, The Alarm, Missing Person, Orson, JET, and The 88 over the years.

A gong opens up attention and the entrance of first track Wicked Ways, a shock to ears which are soon filled with enticingly grooved big-cat-love-albumguitars and crisp probing rhythms. It is instant agreeable bait which only increases its lure with the vocals of Deering and an increasingly potent infectiousness which soaks the melodies and chorus of the song as well as the vocal delivery. You cannot say that the song is a startling protagonist for the imagination and emotions but it is a persistently persuasive stroll of finely sculpted hooks, fiery grooves, and sonic enterprise which achieves the same impact. Feeling like an old friend in new clothes in many ways, much like the album, the song is an impressive opener which is swiftly matched by Marionette. Bringing more punkish seeds than the first whilst still firmly involved with a hard rock canvas, the excellent track seduces like a mix of early days The Jam and The Vapors, easily igniting and passions. The fact that it is a reworking from an appearance on the last album makes no difference to its might and presence on the album, such its thrilling offering.

The following Strike My Fancy (Knickers Down) is as flamboyant and wonderfully sleazy as its title suggests though with a refined touch in restraint behind a melodic colour which flames around the senses as keys tease their submission. It is another excellent romp with more contagion than a strip club and just as sexy, especially with the incendiary guitar craft blazing across its body, a skill just as evident in Stay Off My La La and You Love to Suffer. The first of the pair shows its intent to rock from the first seconds, riffs and vocals a keen devilry within a sturdy frame of rhythms and dark roaming basslines. As all the songs there is something virulently catchy and anthemic to the track easily bringing feet, voice, and emotions into its grasp. Thoughts of bands like The Motors and Eddie and the Hot Rods are stirred occasionally through the song before it makes way for its successor, a smouldering ballad which from humble temptations emerges over time as a riveting enticement with dark sixties punk croon to its suasion.

The title track comes in next, starting with a mischievous almost tribal groan which sparks real intrigue but then as swiftly abandons the bait to twist into a glam/seventies pop rock which is more than decent but just does not excite like the previous songs. Like Darts meets The Quireboys it is a satisfying romp but not one to fire up any real passion in personal tastes, though the bass endeavour and climactic conclusion to the song are big pluses. The perfectly accomplished and varied Just a Kiss At the Starting Line is much the same in success though different in sound with its country rock twang and bold melodic rock stroll. The guitars and drums again ensure there is plenty to engage and run with, just not enough to spark any major ardour for.

Super Glam next builds a bold rock lure of country bred spice amidst a power pop lilt and darkly toned vocals. It is another song taking time to convince but succeeds eventually through its excellent pop swagger and hard rock veining of outstanding guitar craft and pumped rhythms. It is one of those devious songs which takes a deeper grip than first realised to be a lingering presence, though the following punk infused Aim for the Heart soon has total attention for itself, the song an outstanding fusion of the addictive hooks of Buzzcocks and rich drama of Psychedelic Furs all immersed in the kind of premise which only Smash fashion can conjure. The song is an infectious temptation with feisty intent, a mix equalled by Blame It On the Brandy right after. The song immediately has ears at attention as it opens with ridiculously addictive rhythms before settling into a brew of alluring hooks, stirring riffs, and healthily anthemic vocals. Bringing seventies glam flourishes into a tempest of blues kissed rock n roll, the excellent encounter is a mix of American rock and Thin Lizzy, and a complete joy.

The dusty climate and vocal shade to Live to Tell makes for another very satisfying if not explosive avenue to the album, its scenery a bloom of shapely guitar invention and flavoursome rhythmic wile, before Stairs to Nowhere brings Big Cat Love to a rousing close. A big boned mesh of seventies hard rock and garage punk with unsurprising but enjoyable animated energy and passion, the track makes for an eventful conclusion to a fascinating triumph. Boundaries are not worried and originality arguably left alone for the main by Smash Fashion on their album but they still present a proposition which incites pleasure and the rocker in us all and that is more than enough for us.

Big Cat Love is available via Electricpudding Recordings now!

http://www.smashfashionmusic.com

8/10

RingMaster 09/05/2014

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Smash Fashion: Blame It On The Brandy/Marionette

Whatever the shade or flavour which sparks up our individual fires, we all love a bit of music nostalgia. Arguably a major chunk of current music harkens back to earlier times in some way, whether a band inspired by the first days of death metal, another by the psychedelic sounds of the sixties or one investigating the post punk discord of the eighties. There are others Like US rockers Smash Fashion who openly and eagerly attempt to re-ignite and re-energise a style which gave breath to their love of music.

LA based quartet Smash Fashion is, in their description, a power pop rock n roll band, in our description the band is quite simply rock music at its best, honest, enthused, and here to aurally molest with the wink of a devil. The band show with a passion their distinctive dandy rock in their current single Blame It On The Brandy/Marionette, two songs which pull you back to the seventies with a fine mix of power pop, hard rock, and a spattering of glam. The tracks play like a fusion of The Motors, Sweet, Cheap Trick and most of all Thin Lizzy brought up to date and given a fresh heart. The single follows two acclaimed albums, A Gentlemens Guide to Sophisticated Savagery of 2006 and Don’t Pet The Sweaty Things which came out three years later, all through Electricpudding Recordings.

The band is fronted by the iconic Roger Deering, a man with a swagger in attitude and songwriting not to mention vocally. With him the band has a line-up which could almost be called a super group. The guitars are brought by ex glam/punk band Rock City Angels member Lloyd Stuart Casson, whilst on bass there is Nigel Mogg, ex member of British hard rock band The Quireboys, known in the US as London Quireboys. Completing the line-up is drummer Repo (Reijo Kauppila), once of Finnish glam rock legends, Smack. The four come together to create sounds which resurrect feelings and thoughts from earlier times whilst turning them into a thrilling proposition with its place firmly in the now, the result a evocative feast for the senses.

Blame It On The Brandy is first up and immediately has the senses at attention with the thumping and anthemic rhythms of Repo pounding at their door. The track then settles in a keen yet reserved brew of infectious hooks, stirring riffs and pulsating rhythms. The vocals too have a welcoming draw which invites one to unify in voice with the chorus whilst group harmonies further light the air. The track is pure rock n roll tinged with contagious seventies glam flourishes especially mid way in, and a closing crescendo of burning guitar play which is hard rock at its best. The song is an evolving pleasure starting with an American rock introduction moving through that a glam rock teasing and ending with a guitar climax which would fit smoothly into any Thin Lizzy set. It is a seamless flow which takes the infectiousness of the song deeper until it is a raging presence in the head long after the last note has drifted away.

Marionette is a dirtier and feistier track, the band adding a punk rub to their sound. Though the song ruffles the ear more than its companion it again is instantly engaging with immense satisfaction left in its wake. The rawer air to the song brings a heavier and more mischievous adventure to the ear, its attitude combative yet respectful. The song, a reworking of a track on Don’t Pet The Sweaty Things, has glances of The Damned and Dead Boys to it and having checked out the original for comparison, the band definitely bring a strength and roundness maybe lacking in the original to the song for a fuller impact. From the rhythms and hypnotic basslines to the expressive vocals and searing guitar invention, the song hits the spot dead centre and arguably is the better of the two tracks.

If Smash Fashion is a band which has eluded your ears then there is a no better entrance into their naughty, hungry, and exciting world than through Blame It On The Brandy/Marionette. They are a long overdue treat no one should be denied.

http://www.smashfashionmusic.com/

RingMaster 18/08/2012

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