It’s just a few days since I was last sat behind the keyboard waxing lyrical about the return of Swedish sleaze rockers Backyard Babies, now Century Media are at it again, messing with my musical memory banks with the return of Buckcherry, another band who thankfully saved me from a life a beige back at the tail end of the nineties.

The connections don’t end there either as just like with BYBs I pretty much fell out of love with Buckcherry around the time their albums started to contain the same amount of ballads you’d expect to find on a Celine Dion long player, and then when the news broke In May 2017 that guitarist Keith Nelson was leaving the band you’ll forgive me for thinking that things might just be over for Buckcherry.

How wrong could I be though, as here they are back with a bang in 2019 with studio album number eight and wearing the ‘Warpaint’ this time around singer Josh Todd is the sole survivor from the ‘Lit Up’ years whilst guitarist Stevie D is still there at his side from Crazy Bitch’ era. Also in attendance this time around are ex-Orson man Kevin Roentgen on guitar (he was also in the rather splendid American Pearl who opened for Buckcherry back in the early 00s), bassist Kelly LeMieux and the already departed Sean Winchester on drums.

Having rolled my eyes into the back of my horse’s head at the band’s pointless cover of Nine Inch Nail’s ‘Head Like A Hole’ which is also included here, I’d deliberately stayed away from any other album teasers as I really wanted to fall in love with Buckcherry all over again, and with ‘Warpaint’ kicking off with the album’s title track I’m pleased to say that some of that initial fire the band had in their stomachs around the time of their first two albums appears to have returned, BUT, and this is a big BUT, the overall feel I get is one of a band slightly holding back, as the acoustic lead ‘Right Now’ proves. This is a track that should explode from the speakers after the initial strut of the verse but instead, it pops and fizzes along where it should really be ripping your throat out.

I thought it was me initially, but I’ve also noted some other people on social media commenting about the mix being a bit subdued, however to point the finger solely at Mike Plotnikoff (who manned the desk on this project as he had done on their third album’15’) to me seems a bit harsh as when the band do ultimately slip into ballad territory as they do on ‘Radio Song’ and ‘The Hunger’ the sound simply soars. Surely there were more pairs of ears in the control room than Mike’s when the bite and crunch that should be there on the guitars on the opening riff for ‘The Vacuum’ end up muffled below the rhythm section? Still, it’s a good song, with a great vocal melody from Todd. I just wish again that the killer instinct was a bit more to the front.

Where ‘Warpaint’ does score a full 10 for me is on the superb ‘Bent’ (a track that could have fallen off the band’s classic and hugely underrated ‘Time Bomb’ album) and on the double time almost country-tinged shuffle of ‘No Regrets’, both tracks showing that Buckcherry are anything but a spent musical force.

Likewise, the gospel-tinged ‘Back Down’ is a sultry little number that could be a sleeper hit single whilst ‘Closer’ thunders along on an AC/DC like staccato riff that immediately has me tapping my hoof.

Look I’d love to say this is the best thing Buckcherry have recorded since ‘15’ just like Josh Todd is doing in the press rounds right now, but I can’t, simply because it isn’t, and tracks like ‘The Alarm’ plus album closer’ The Devil’s In The Detail’ just aren’t up there with the likes of ‘Onset’ and ‘Broken Glass’ the tracks they (kind of) correspond with if you stand the two albums alongside one another.

Make no mistake though ‘Warpaint’ is still a really decent hard rock album, and it is a breath of fresh air compared to the turgid bullshit being peddled as the next big thing by certain other record labels, it’s just for me it lacks that immediate knockout punch that some of the band’s previous album possessed in spades, so for now, I’ll leave my love-light on standby.

Buy ‘Warpaint’: Here

Website

Facebook

Author: Johnny Hayward

 

 

 

 

 

Backyard Babies really are a hugely important band to me, not least because when they released their sophomore LP ‘Total 13’ back in 1998 they almost single-handedly rescued me from the ocean of musical blandness I was drowning myself in. That album (along with releases by The Hellacopters and Rocket From The Crypt) threw me a lifeline so to speak. The awesome power of ‘Total 13’ gave me exactly the same buzz I had when I first heard ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ and ‘Appetite For Destruction’ and the BYBs gigs I attended that immediately followed this release merely cemented my L.U.V for the Swedes as my new favourite band.

I’ll admit that sitting here in 2019 a lot of sleaze rock water has passed under the bridge since those early days, and my previous undying love for anything Nicke, Dregen, Peder and Johan touched has subsequently been replaced by something largely approaching indifference. I got to this place after attending a series of what I feel were “going through the motions” live shows that certainly didn’t come anywhere near the sheer adrenaline blast of those ‘Total 13’ gigs and after their self imposed five year career hiatus I defy anyone to tell me that ‘Four By Four’ was the best the band could have come up with for their return.

After hearing ‘Shovin’Rocks’ the lead track from ‘Sliver & Gold’ at another, what I would call, “lackluster” show from the band at Hellfest 2018 I was starting to think I might have to give album number eight from the guys a miss, and owning pretty much everything else the band has released (and on multiple formats too) this isn’t something I say with any great relish I can assure you. What I hadn’t counted on though was one truly exceptional headline set at HRH Sleaze where even ‘Shovin’Rocks’ started to get inside my head, and yup, you guessed it, the Limited Edition LP & CD version of ‘Sliver & Gold’ was duly pre-ordered.

By now I bet you’re wondering what is this 10 track album (one that Nicke Borg refers to as their “most intense and furious album to date”) actually like then H Bomb?

Opener ‘Good Morning Midnight’ (which was also the second track to be previewed in the run-up to the album release) is a great place to start not just because it’s the first track but because its easily one of the best songs the band have written since the ‘Making Enemies Is Good’ album and this return to form continues into ‘Simple Being Sold’ another track that has Nicke spitting out the lyrics just like he did two decades ago.

‘Shovin’ Rocks’ is up next and whilst it will never be my favourite Backyard Babies track it actually fits in well here plus it’s always good to hear Dregen trading lead vocals with Borg. ‘Ragged Flag’ meanwhile is a jaunty little call and response number full of piratey goodness whilst the poptastic ‘Yes To All No’ sees the band following an almost BOC meets Boston direction something that has the band’s fellow countryman Tobias Forge written all over it.

‘Bad Seed’ sees the BYBs returning to the anthemic style of ‘Brand New Hate’ whilst the Dregen lead ’44 Undead’ (which was album preview number three) possesses a sub-zero coolness about it that should have diehard fans chomping at the bit.

It’s worth mentioning at this point the super sharp production from Chips Kiesbye which literally sparks with electricity during the album’s title track complete with its Space Ace lead break which along with ‘Day Late In My Dollar Shorts’ that follows brings the record to a thundering conclusion. Well almost.

What does actually close the LP is something akin to Sweden’s answer to ‘November Rain’- namely ‘Laugh Now Cry Later’ – a track clocking in at just over 6 minutes that goes absolutely nowhere. Which is a shame really as ‘Sliver & Gold’ up to this point was looking like the BYBs might have finally exorcised their previous musical misgivings.

If at this point you’re thinking of taking the plunge and getting the Limited Edition LP/CD version I mentioned earlier (or the first press deluxe CD) then you’re not finished just yet, as with these versions you also get five acoustic reworkings of some of the band’s back catalogue, the pick of which for me being ‘Th1rt3en Or Nothing’ which actually proves that behind that truly horrible cowbell loop a very good song was always there just waiting to get out.

Look, all joking aside I’ll never be able to thank Backyard Babies enough for rescuing me from a world full of middle of the road shite back in the late 90s and to think that the band who saved me from that fate might be heading that way themselves really hurt me like hell. I accept that they will probably never record a ‘Total 13 (Part II) as to survive a band needs to move forward not be constantly looking over their shoulder. With ‘Sliver & Gold’ then I do feel the guys have gone somewhere to restoring the balance between the spirit of their younger angrier selves and the more responsible adults they have become, I just wish someone would tell Nicke to stop writing the fucking ballads.

Buy Silver & Gold Here

Author: Johnny Hayward

Love em or loathe them Backyard Babies are in the house and ‘Good Morning Midnight’ is the lead track off the brand new long player set for release  March 1st, 2019. Order now: Here

More than three years have passed since their last studio album “Four By Four”, but 2019 sees Nicke, Dregen, Johan and Peder return to celebrate their 30th anniversary in style with a brand new record entitled “Sliver & Gold” which is due to be released on March 1st, 2019 via Century Media Records. In celebration of the bands anniversary, Century Media is releasing both limited formats as special editions that will come wrapped in gold foil and include five newly recorded acoustic bonus songs!