2016 has been quite the year for the rock community. Over the nearly eight months that have already pass, the rock community has seen a number of impressive new releases with plenty more on the way. Those impressive releases have come from both independent acts such as Buffalo Summer, Love and a .38, and Resurrection Kings and from more well-known acts the likes of Santana, Rich Robinson, and the focus of today’s review, Foghat. The veteran rock band released its latest album Under The Influence late last month. The album, the band’s seventeenth full-length studio recording, is also one of the year’s top new rock records so far. From beginning to end, this twelve-song record presents everything that is right with rock. That includes both the musical arrangements that form the foundation of each song and their lyrical content. One of the songs that best exemplifies this is ‘The Upside of Lonely.’ It is the antithesis of the breakup song. ‘Knock It Off’ exemplifies it just as much. Much the same can be said of ‘Hot Mama.’ Each song shows in its own way what makes Under The Influence everything right about rock. Those songs join with the album’s other nine offerings to make the album in whole, one of 2016s top new rock records so far and one of the year’s top new albums overall, too.
Being considered “under the influence” is typically considered a bad thing. It means that someone has in his or system something that he or she shouldn’t have. However in the case of Foghat’s new album, being “under the influence” of the band’s music is a good thing. It is in fact a very good thing. That is because over the course of its twelve total songs, the only high that listeners will get is a musical high. That is because this record exhibits over that span everything that is right with rock and roll today. It proves that true blue-collar rock and roll is still alive and well. This is exhibited clearly in the form of ‘The Upside of Lonely.’ The playful, blues-infused tune is the complete antithesis of the breakup song. Charlie Huhn’s bluesy licks and Scott Holt’s vocal delivery couple with Craig MacGregor’s bass line to form a solid foundation for the song. Their work conjures thoughts of an upscale jazz and blues club. Drummer Roger Earl’s equally solid timekeeping strengthens that foundation even more. The combination of these elements instantly makes the arrangement in whole infectious and a favorite among the album’s overall arrangements. It is just one part of what makes the song stand out. The song’s lyrical content is just as important. Lyrically speaking, the song is the total antithesis of the breakup song. Holt sings here about all the positives of being alone versus being in a relationship. He sings, “The good thing about you being gone/I can watch the game all day long/I can stretch my legs out in the bed/Extra pillows underneath my head/Don’t know why nobody told me about the upside of lonely/I got a lot more room for all my stuff/And I only have to wash one cup/I can stay up late and play my guitar/And the groceries go twice as far/Don’t know why nobody told me about the upside of lonely/You girlfriends ain’t ringin’ the phone off the wall/And I never have to hear from my mothering-law/I ain’t cut the grass since the middle of June/I smoke a big cigar in my living room/I don’t know why nobody told me about the upside of lonely.” What man won’t smile and pump his first in the air in agreement with this sentiment? Listeners should keep in mind that Holt sings these lines with his tongue planted firmly in cheek. There’s not a single hint of animosity as he sings these lines or the lines that follow. Keeping that in mind, the song’s Stevie Ray Vaughan style musical arrangement and its playful lyrical content couple here to make this song a clear example of why Foghat’s new album its own collective example of all that is right with rock and roll today and why the album is also one of the year’s top new rock and overall records. It is just one of the album’s key compositions, too. ‘Knock It off’ also serves to help UTI (as it will henceforth be known) stand out in whole.
‘Upside of Lonely’ is a clear example of what makes UTI stand out among its counterparts in the rock community this year. That is due to its bluesy, Stevie Ray Vaughan style musical arrangement and its playful lyrical content. It is just one of the record’s key compositions. ‘Knock It Off’ serves to show what makes UTI stand out just as much as ‘Upside of Lonely.’ Only it does so in a different way. In listening to this song, listeners that know their music history will instantly note the stylistic similarity to AC/DC in terms of the song’s musical arrangement. It is a driving, straight-forward 4/4 rocker that is infectious in its very own way. It does plenty to make the song stand out among the rest of the album’s offerings. It is just one part of what makes the song stand out, too. The song’s lyrical content is just as important to note here as its musical content. Huhn makes no bones about the song’s message here. He (or the song’s subject) is addressing someone whose sole intent in life seems solely to be making trouble and making others miserable. He sings to that person in a very matter of fact fashion, “Don’t need no excuses/You like stirrin’ my cup/And pullin’ my strings/You keep winding me up/You think I’m overreacting/There’s a line you cross over/Just give me a reason/I got a chip on my shoulder/So knock it off/Knock it off/You’d better knock it off/I’ve got a chip on my shoulder…so knock it off.” He goes on to sing in the song’s second verse, “You keep pushin’ and pushin’/You just won’t let up/We gotta settle this quickly/And get out of this rut/I see you lookin’ for trouble/Well I desire some, too/Well just give me a reason/Double dare you to knock it off.” Who out there hasn’t dealt with someone such as the subject being addressed here? Exactly. Considering this, the song becomes a great way to blow off some steam in dealing with such individuals instead of risk losing their jobs or safety over those people. Keeping this in mind, it serves even more to show why this song is so important to the overall presentation of UTI. It is still not the last example of what makes UTI stand out, either. ‘Hot Mama’ serves to show what makes UTI such an important new offering from Foghat just as much as ‘Knock It Off’ and ‘Upside of Lonely.’
‘Upside of Lonely’ and ‘Knock It Off’ are both key examples of what makes Foghat’s new album such an important new offering in this year’s field of new rock albums. Both songs’ musical arrangements harken back to a better age of rock; an age when rock was great because of its simplicity. The songs’ lyrical content is just as important to note because of their clear, simple messages. The prior is the antithesis of the breakup song and the other is a loud, confident statement defying those that would make others’ lives miserable. The combination of each song’s musical arrangement and lyrical content make each song in whole important in its own right to the album’s overall presentation. They are, again, just two key compositions included in the body of UTI, though. ‘Hot Mama’ is just as important to note in examining the album’s body as ‘Upside of Lonely’ and ‘Knock It Off.’ That is because it stands apart from those songs (and the rest of the album’s offerings’) just as much as they do from one another and the rest of the album’s songs. This song’s musical arrangement helps it stand out with its pure, old school southern rock and roll sound. It conjures thoughts of Lynyrd Skynyrd and others of that ilk with its riffs. That is just one part of what makes this record stand out. The song’s lyrical content is just as notable here as its musical arrangement. It is so important to note because it is in direct contrast to that of ‘Upside of Lonely.’ Whereas that song touted the positives of bachelorhood this song is more of a fun little piece about a man who has found quite the woman. There is even a bit of innuendo so to speak in the song’s lyrical content as Huhns subject sings to that woman, “Hot mama/Who’s gonna fan your flame/Hey hot mama/Let me be your fireman” in the song’s chorus. Whether or not that innuendo was intentionally inserted is anyone’s guess. But one can’t deny that it is there unintentional or not. The woman in question is obviously attractive, though. Huhn’s subject makes that clear as he says to her, You give me a fever/When I’m standing next to you/You’re gonna burn down the house/Lookin’ like you do/Hot mama/Who’s gonna fan your flames/Hey hot mama/Let me be your fireman.” If this doesn’t get any couple in the mood for a *ahem* busy night then nothing will. That is because between its “fiery” musical energy and equally notable lyrical content, it will definitely light some flames of passion. Considering this, it shows once more why this song stands out so loud and proud among the rest of the album’s offerings. When it is considered along with ‘Upside of Lonely’ and ‘Knock It Off’ all three songs make rather clear why UTI is such an impressive new effort from Foghat. When listeners hear them, and the rest of the album’s songs, they will agree that every rock purist will want to be under its influence.
Foghat’s new album Under The Influence is a record that is one of 2016’s top new rock records and top new albums overall. That is because from beginning to end it exemplifies everything that is right with rock and roll today. It shows that rock is thankfully still alive and well. Between the album’s overall musical content and its lyrical content, there is plenty to appreciate about the record. This is evident not just in the songs directly discussed here but in each of the album’s offerings. In considering this listeners will agree that every rock purist will want to be under its influence. It is available now in stores and online. More information on Under The Influence is available online now along with all of Foghat’s news at:
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