Rikki Rockett and Traci Gunns were two of the biggest names in the music industry during the 1980s. That is because the bands in which they were members–Poison and L.A. Guns respectively–were two of the biggest both in the rock community and the music community in whole. Of course as with all good things those bands’ day came and things changed in the music industry in the early 1990s, with the music industry putting its attention to the Pacific Northwest. Fast forward to this year. Rockett and Gunns have joined forces with bassist Rudy Sarzo (Ozzy Osbourne, Whitesnake, Dio) and guitarist/vocalist Brandon Gibbs (Cheap Thrill) to form a new band called Devil City Angels. The band’s name is fitting considering the experience of the band’s members. The band just released its self-titled debut album this week. And it goes without saying that for those rock and roll purists out there, this new effort from the veteran musicians is one of this year’s best new rock records. That is because it offers nothing but pure old school rock and roll updated for the twenty-first century throughout the course of its ten tracks and thirty-eight minutes. This applies both to the album’s musical and lyrical content as is evident right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Numb.’ ‘No Angels’ is another good example of how the album’s collective material will take purists back to that age of big rock and even bigger hair. There’s even an old school rock ballad included inthe record’s body in the form of ‘Goodbye Forever.’ It’s not one of those way over-the-top ballads. But the infuence of those songs is there. It’s just one more example of what makes this record a hit for classic rock fans. That is not to say that the album’s other eight tracks are not good examples of what this record has to offer listeners. The examples used here are just a few chosen specifically by this critic. All ten tracks considered together make Devil City Angels’ self-titled debut a record that every rock and roll purist will enjoy and that rightfully belongs on any critic’s list of the year’s best new rock records.
Devil City Angels’ self-titled debut record is one of the biggest surprises of 2015’s music offerings so far. That is because while not listed as one of the year’s most anticipated new records, it proves thoroughly throughout the course of its ten tracks and thirty-eight minutes to be a record that every rock and roll purist will enjoy. Much like Rubicon Cross’ debut self-titled album last year, this band’s self-titled debut takes fans back to the era of big rock and even bigger hair without just lazily re-creating that sound. Instead it takes that classic rock sound and updates it for the twenty-first century, again much as with Rubicon Cross’ self-titled 2014 debut. That is obvious right off the top in the album’s opener ‘Numb.’ In regards to its musical content, the song sounds like something that came right from the early 90s’ mainstream rock sound. Gibbs’ guitar work and that of Rockett behind the drumkit are the real driving force behind that sound. Both parts boast a certain bombast that together give the song just enough punch to grab listeners. Lyrically speaking it is just as interesting. Listening through both of the song’s verses, the song comes across as a story about a man who just doesn’t care about anyone or anything. That can be assumed as Gibbs sings, “Freak out man on fire/This guy is owned by a burning desire/And you can bet that he’s got a collection of f*****’ up in the wrong direction/Justify the way he lies is a guy in the room with the greyest eyes you see/Could be it’s the conversation/He’s long with the motivation.” Gibbs goes on to sing of this man in the song’s second verse, “No affection/He doesn’t care about the perception/He finds the room with the chill and cold/Yeah he tells the girls that he rolls in gold.” This is a man who obviously is in fact numb to the world. He only has one thing on his mind. What’s really interesting here is the way that the song and it energy match up with the song’s lyrical content. It serves quite well to illustrate the type of person that he is. He is one of those high-powered businessmen that people hear about in the news every day who eventually gets busted for either financial wrong doings or otherwise. In other words, he is one of those people who will get his in the end. Thinking about that and the song’s musical content, the pairing of both elements within the song makes clear why ‘Numb’ is such a good opener for DCA’s debut and an equally good example of how much the band has to offer in its first effort.
‘Numb’ is a good first impression from DCA in its self-titled debut. Its mix of driving musical content and rather interesting lyrical content makes it an equally good example of how much the band has to offer from its first effort. It is just one example of what makes DCA’s debut one that any rock purist will appreciate. ‘No Angels’ is another good example of what makes this record worth the listen. In regards to its musical content, this song goes back even more, taking listeners way back to the 80s with its big, bombastic guitar sound and Gibbs’ equally huge vocal delivery. Rockett is just as much of a powerhouse on the drums while Sarzo’s expertise on the bass gives just enough low-end all while providing a great harmony to the dual guitar attack of Gunns and Gibbs. Examining the song’s lyrical content, the song is just as interesting. The song’s lyrical content centers on relationships gone bad. It’s not the standard, run-of-the-mill “oh, woe is me” style pieces, either. That’s what really makes this piece interesting. That is clear as Gibbs sings in the song’s lead verse, “She had a wedding at the funeral for your heart/Showed the light but left you in the dark/She kept you dry but then left you in the rain/She wrote a letter said, “I’m really glad you came…She’ll hold his hand but never say his name/Raise ’em high but never play the game/And you wonder who’s the one to blame?” That’s pretty straight forward. Gibbs leaves just as little doubt as to the song’s subject as he sings in the song’s second verse, “He bought a heartache with a quarter from a jar/Help me mister drown my broken heart/She was a rose but she lived with so much pain/He tried to fix ’em but he drove himself insane.” Gibbs adds even more to the song as he sings in the song’s choruses that he hadn’t seen any angels in years. He is obviously speaking metaphorically here saying that there really don’t seem to be a lot of good people in the world. Considering such sentiment it makes the song’s musical content all the more interesting. The musical content is up-tempo and full of energy rather than what it could have been. All things considered here, listeners get yet another clear example of why rock purists should hear DCA’s self-titled debut.
‘Numb’ and ‘No Angels’ are both good examples of how much Devil City Angels has to offer listeners on its self-titled debut. Both songs present their own interesting mix of musical and lyrical content; content that will take listeners back to another era of rock. They are just a couple examples of what makes this record a great first start for the collective of veteran musicians. ‘Goodbye Forever’ is yet another clear example of why rock purists will appreciate this record. It is a classic style song that despite being a ballad, isn’t one of those schmaltzy, over-the-top style works. In other words, it is a power ballad. But it isn’t one of those types of power ballads that could be spoofed on SNL or by other bands. The fact that the song doesn’t just harken back to those huge, swaying ballads from rock’s “biggest” (get it?) era is just part of what makes the song interesting. Throughout the course of the song, Gibbs paints an interesting picture, asking a woman first, “How do you say you’re mine forever?” and then proceeding to ask “But I gotta know how to say goodbye forever.” That’s right. This is a song rooted in a broken relationship. Gibbs’ subject sings to the object of his affection just how much she means to him, but that things have to come to an end. It’s a rather interesting contrast and one that even today people go through. to that extent, it’s a song that is sure to help plenty of people through their own difficult relationship issues. Yes, it’s sappy. but it’s not one of those overly schmaltzy, saccharine sweet songs that it could easily have been. To that end, it really does serve to help show the diversity of music that makes up the record’s body. It is hardly the only other song that could have served as an example of how much the album has to offer listeners, too. As a mater of fact any of the album’s eight remaining tracks that were not noted here could have been used to show just how much this record has to offer rock purists. And in an age when metalcore and all of those other cores seem to be dominating the rock world, it makes Devil City Angels a record that is not just a great listen for rock purists but one of the year’s best new rock records in whole.
Devil City Angels’ self-titled debut LP is one of this year’s best new rock records. It is an album that much like Rubicon Cross’ self-titled 2014 debut takes the classic sound of the 80s and updates it for the twenty-first century. That sound, coupled with lyrical content that is just as easily accessible, and an overall run time that barely tops the half hour mark makes the band’s album one that every classic rock fan and rock purist will want to hear at least once if not more. DCA is available now in stores and online around the world. While no tour dates have been announced in support of the new record that does not mean that the band won’t have any live dates coming up. Audiences can keep up with those potential dates online now along with all of the band’s news through its official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/DevilCityAngels.
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