Rock is not dead. To quote AC/DC front man Brian Johnson, “rock and roll will never die.” And the upcoming re-issue of rock and roll super group The Bullhounds’ 2014 album Protector is proof of that. The band, whose members have recorded and performed with the likes of Sheryl Crow, Georgia Satellites, and Izzy Stradlin, released the band’s debut album overseas last year. And on March 10th it will finally get a proper U.S. courtesy of MVD Entertainment Group. The album’s title is quite fitting considering the musical and lyrical content that makes up the album’s twelve tracks. From start to finish, this record is pure old school rock and roll. It reminds listeners of everything that once made rock great and still does today, even among all of the down-tuned, crunching guitars and indecipherable cookie monster growls, and oh-woe-is-me lyrics that are out there. It shows that even among all of those cookie cutter acts that make up the rock and metal communities, real, pure rock and roll is still very much alive and well. Among the album’s dozen songs and forty-five minutes, there is not one bad moment. The bluesy ‘If You Got No One’ is one of the strongest of the album’s moments thanks both to its music and to its uplifting lyrics. Right after that song is the contemplative ‘What Makes A Man.’ This track is just as rich in its blues roots musically speaking. Lyrically speaking, it is just as interesting as it makes its own statement without being overly preachy unlike so many of today’s younger bands. And then there is the even deeper ‘Moments.’ This song is one of the most surprising of the album’s songs. That is because it is the total antithesis of anything else on this record. By its lyrics and the album’s overall musical style, one would expect it to be a huge ballad. But it is not even that. It is an emotional piece that offers so much both musically and lyrically. It is just one more example of what makes Protector an early, clear candidate for both the year’s best new rock records and best new independent records. That isn’t to take away anything from the album’s other songs, either. Pieces such as ‘Mean, Mean Girl,’ ‘Little Lady,’ and ‘Drunk Tired’ are just as noteworthy as are the six songs that remain after all of those. Collectively, all twelve songs make Protector an album that any rock and roll purist should hear at least once.
The Bullhounds’ debut record Protector is an easy candidate for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new rock records and independent records, too. Every one of the album’s twelve tracks offers its own argument as to why the album is deserving of this honor. Between the old school blues/rock sound that dominates most of the album and its softer moments, there is more than enough material on this record to put a smile on the face of any rock and roll purist. One of the best examples of what makes this record so enjoyable comes in the form of ‘If You Got No One.’ ‘If You Got No One’ comes in just after the album’s midway point. It is a fun, solid, straight forward blues-rock piece that offers just as much enjoyment from its musical side as its lyrical side. Drummer Mauro Magellan’s solid, driving tempo teams with guitarist Rick Richards to create the song’s musical foundation. Front man Erling Daell adds his own touch to the song with his positive lyrics. Daell sings “Life can be really tough I know/But you gotta hang in there/Although things don’t always turn out the way you want/But don’t ever let that get to you/I know it can be hard/But all you gotta do/Is always look on the bright side of life.” From there, Daell returns to the refrains of the song’s lead verse singing, “If you got no one to lean on/If you got no one to turn to/If you got no one to tell your troubles to/Yeah, if you got a whole lotta trouble/If you can’t make nobody see/You know my friend you can always lean on me.” Daell’s almost Mike Neff style vocals add even more to the song, making it even more enjoyable and a prime example of why this album is well worth the listen.
‘If You Got No One’ is a great example of what makes The Bullhounds debut album one of the best new rock records and best new independent releases of 2015. As impressive as the song proves to be against Protector’s other songs, it is just one of the album’s high points. The band shows in ‘What Makes A Man’ that it doesn’t rest easily on its laurels. ‘What Makes A Man’ slows things down considerably without losing any of the album’s musical or lyrical punch. Daell sings in this song, “Customers of God!/File out of the churches/Casting me glances/With eyes that are sold on thinly veiled curses/They cut holes where my heart is/And I’m left asking/What makes a man/What makes a man/Is it logic/Is it faith/Is it skin and bones/What makes a man/What makes a man/Is it saying I don’t know when I don’t know/Well I don’t know.” One would think that considering these lyrics, ‘What Makes A Man’ would be a much softer ballad-style piece in terms of its music. But instead it holds the blues roots exhibited throughout the album’s other songs. Its tempo is slower than that of many of the album’s other songs. But it doesn’t let itself become the stereotypical introspective ballad that it easily could have become. It’s yet another way in which Protector proves to be such an impressive record both as a rock record and an independent record.
The members of The Bullhounds go well beyond proving on Protector that it is indeed possible to teach old dogs some new tricks. And yes, that bad pun was fully intended. That is exhibited both in ‘If You Got No One’ and ‘What Makes A Man.’ It is exhibited in every one of the album’s other songs, too. One more new trick that the veteran musicians show off on this record is the album’s only real ballad, ‘Moments.’ What is truly intriguing about this song is that while it is a ballad, it is not necessarily the sort of song one typically thinks of when one thinks of ballads in the typical sense. It is very much a gentle, controlled song. But it isn’t the sappy, over-the-top sort of song that one typically associates with the term “ballad.” It is actually a very moving piece, musically speaking. And that coupled with its lyrics validates it even more. Daell reminds listeners in this song to not take any moment for granted no matter how big or small as he sings, “Feel it now/Feel for the moment/It will not allow/Any lingering/First it comes/And then it’s gone/And even memories will fade/So feel the moment/Before it slips away.” That is illustrated even more as he sings, “Let it go you fool/Cause you don’t know/When a precious moment passes on/A new one’s born.” He then goes on to sing in the song’s closing verse, “All you get/A string of moments/That is all you get/But you will find/That what you got/Is quite a lot/And that is all you need to know/So feel the moment/And let it go.” The band’s musical approach to the song coupled with its lyrical take make a perfect match. The emotional impact of the partnering is one that will hopefully keep in listeners’ minds to find something special in every moment every day. Such positive lyrics and touching music is difficult to find in today’s mainstream musical universe. That general lack of musical and lyrical positivity makes even clearer why this song is another welcome addition to Protector. It shows yet again, too why Protector is one of this year’s early candidates for a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s best new rock and independent records lists.
‘If You Got No One,’ ‘What Makes A Man,’ and ‘Moments’ are all prime examples of why Protector is one of this year’s best new rock and independent records. That is not to take away from the album’s other songs, either. Whether for the old school rock sound of ‘Fugitive,’ the swagger of ‘Little Lady,’ the Americana-infused ‘Drunk Tired,’ or any of the album’s other songs not noted here, audiences will find something to like about Protector. Speaking of ‘Drunk Tired,’ any fans of Hank III will appreciate that song as it definitely mirrors some of his work to some extent. But that’s a story for another time. All of those songs and the pieces directly noted here show without a doubt why any rock and roll purist should give Protector at least one listen. One listen may very well lead to more and a new favorite rock and roll record this year.
Protector will be available for every rock and roll purist to hear Tuesday, March 10th. More information on Protector and all of the latest news from The Bullhounds is available online now at:
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