They are not the first group of guys in the last decade to attempt to re-create the rock and roll ethos of 1980s Sunset Strip heavy metal. They are not the only dudes who have decided, post millennium, to bust out a killer wah-wah, finger-tap guitar solo in the midst of a song about a favorite local dive bar. But for East Coast transplants New Liberty, it’s not parody. It’s not even a tribute. It may be throwback, but only in the sense that by grabbing you by the shoulders and forcing you to recall a time in rock and roll before grunge drove rock in a more sober direction, you are forced, via whiplash, to remember when loud, drunk and obnoxious for the sake of loud, drunk and obnoxious was still cool and, yes, genuine.
Now, sitting pretty on the left coast of America in the sanctum of producer and new guitarist Armand John Anthony’s Satellite Studios in Ventura, the reborn version of the band that one year ago braved inclement weather to cross the continent in a beat-up RV, unleashes upon the world the product of a year’s worth of whiskey-soaked work.
What started as a supervisory role for Anthony quickly became a co-creative role when the band’s original guitarist quit to remain back east. Le Meu Le Purr guitarist Anthony, looking for a new outlet for his Slash-like chops, agreed to fill the position. “It’s like night and day now,” says bassist Willi Love of their new sound.
While the band advises “Question everything,” just don’t question the passion of a band that, against all prudence and logic, uprooted itself from Pennsylvania and New Jersey to make its way west in an audacious show of rock and roll determination to settle 70 miles north of the traditional rock band mecca. Los Angeles? They tried all that, and found it wasn’t all it’s cracked up to be. After some unsatisfying experiences there, producer-guitarist (and tour guide) Anthony delivered them from the smoke-blowing flakes of Hollywood to a new land, where music actually does breathe, unchoked by smog.
It’s not about some hope that long hair and denim will see a comeback on MTV. They’ll be first to tell you that they aren’t in this to fit into a marketable radio niche. But the band strongly believes in the cyclical nature of musical trend backlash. Says drummer Diesel Bottoms, “Guns N’ Roses and Twisted Sister came out and said, ‘You know what? That’s a bunch of crap,’ ” in reaction to the synth-heavy New Wave scene that had begun to dominate the airwaves back then. While stopping short of claiming a similar thing is in motion against today’s electro-pop trends, the guys in New Liberty will draw those comparisons. “There are people out there that love this kind of music and want to hear it,” says Anthony.
The record itself is a headbanging rock ’n’ roll journey from start to finish, reflecting a steady diet of the expected hair metal influences while staying true to roots, digging notably deep in its hard rock influences. Motley Crue and Poison flashbacks envelop the opener, “The Sewer,” in an intoxicated haze, replete with shout-outs to whiskey-Cokes and Pabst Blue Ribbon. That track pays homage to a popular local Ventura bar which, certainly, had either aforementioned band lived in Ventura, would have inspired similar anthems.
Echoes of Alice Cooper, Deep Purple and Motorhead and ’70s Southern rock abound throughout. (Check out the dirty Southern metal slide bar hook on “Me and My Whiskey.”) Listen for well-executed Megadeth meets Quiet Riot vibes on the anthem “Eat Your Heart Out,” and what could have been a lost track from Appetite For Destruction on the B side, “Can’t be Divided,” which the band wrote for VCReporter’s Protest Project compilation. No sooner than your whiskey buzz evolves into that dewy-eyed sentimental moment of inebriation, you get your one solid monster ballad, “Take it or Leave it,” and you’re left with the dusty shuffle of the country-laden “The Good” and the haunting sludge of “The Ugly,” which leaves us asking in vain, where’s the bad?
The Uninvited is available exclusively at Salzer’s Records, and the official release party will be at Bombay Bar and Grill on Saturday, July 30, with special guests Kyle Hunt and the King Gypsy and The Pullmen.