Reviews, interviews, articles, and other blather about music from the mind of Yugoboy

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Classic Rock for People Bored with Classic Rock

HotLunch - Slappy Sunday EP

Conceived in a haze of cannabis, bell-bottoms, long hair and pork chop side-burns Hot Lunch produces hard rock that bleeds tie-dye and acid-fueled psychedelic light shows. Hot Lunch's Slappy Sunday EP is the ultimate party album for a room full of people who think they know their rock history. The five tracks on Slappy Sunday EP contain enough traces of different acid/psychedelic rock, early heavy metal and post-Beatles British rock a classic rock fan will lose themselves for hours digging out the different hints and influences included.

The second time I started this review, my initial assessment described this collection as "what The Doobie Brothers would sound like if they wanted to share the stage with Black Sabbath and steal Steppenwolf fans." A few more listens and that assessment lacks depth and nuance by significant orders of magnitude. In four listens I found traces of The Who, The Doobie Brothers, Alice Cooper, Kiss, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and a ton more. A guitar riff here, a vocal there, this bass line and that drum solo, each second recalls a different artist from the days and years after Woodstock, when music turned darker and the term "heavy metal" became a thing.

Starting with the title track, "Sunday Slappy" is a stupid name for a song that really rocks. Vocals come out somewhat Gene Simmons-ish, while the guitars and bass recall a more Steppenwolf vibe. Loud and fast, the only reason this would get picked up as a classic rock poseur is the length; at 2:37, it's about 4 minutes too short for a true classic rock song. The same can be said of the next two tracks - not enough of a good thing, and really lacking in the rambling jams that made the rock of yesteryear so mesmerizingly awesome. Also, DJs love tunes like "Free Bird" or "Stairway to Heaven" because they can go out for a cigarette during the incredibly long tunes. "Expectations" has some identifiable sounds, but I'm blanking on exactly who I'm hearing. There's definitely some Who in there, but there's so much more, maybe some Bachman Turner Overdrive. It's an engaging tune that, like the preceding song, really needs more space to stretch out and let the guitarist and bassist go nuts jamming and riffing. "China Banks" totally sounds like The Doobie Brothers' "China Grove" played a bit faster. About 2/3 of the way into the song, the sound gets more "acid-y" and again limits itself to under three minutes.

"Pot of Gold" finds band members Eric Shea, Aaron Nudelman, Rob Alper, and Charlie Karr giving themselves more room to stretch out and get all psychedelic. Clocking in at nearly five minutes, there's enough room to develop the guitar riffs and cut loose with the most Who sound yet, while "Living the Nightmare" pays undeniable homage to early Alice Cooper, among others. These San Francisco-based musicians do nothing to hide their roots, and thank God for that. This album is a breath of fresh air, even if that air is hazy with burned pot and patchouli, and a true treat for anyone who has spent at least 10 minutes listening to a Classic Rock station in the past year. Now, if they can resurrect the Fu Manchu they'd be heroes to many.

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