Wednesday, March 17, 2010

review: Adrian and the Sickness -- B.F.D

Adrian and the Sickness
Fantom Records, 2009

Review by Brian Tucker

Everyone's in Austin this week and the town is seemingly never short on musical diversity. Adrian and the Sickness, an Austin stalwart since 2004, have a new album that hugs very hard. It’s a mixed bag of tricks. More so, the female trio is a powerhouse rock and roll band that drops guitar riffs and drum beats like a cute kid driving a Sherman tank around town and firing wildly. Sometimes blistering, sometimes heavy handed, and consistent on saccharine laced vocals, the band deliver loads of explosive energy on their fourth album B.F.D.

Fiery and melodic as late eighties metal (think L.A. Guns, Fastway) and funky as seventies-era AC/DC mixed with the jump-up-and-dance feel of The Go Go’s the band shoots from the hip, clear-cut and fast. Influences are evident – the album was produced by Kathy Valentine of the Go Go’s and lead singer/guitar player Adrian Conner plays in AC/DC tribute band Hell’s Belles. Conner’s playing is Angus Young-tinged, notably on “Loser” and “Rice N Bean.” “Modern Freedom” opens with heavy sonic crunch, boogie flavored “Rice N Bean” keeps the album solid and “Turn It Up” is an album highlight in which Conner’s chorus is on fire and Melodie Zapata’s drumming hammers away.

But instead of lingering in one area B.F.D. reveals a few surprises like its title track which could easily be mistaken for a Bangles song and a cover of “Radar Love”. The album makes a complete left turn with, gasp, a fantastic pop song – “Listening,” which soars like a great radio rock anthem and vocals like a teen queen. It takes the form to respectable, and renewed, heights.

For all its sonic boom there’s an off-balance quality to having sugary vocals placed against ragged rock music. It does not detract or sound out of place, except maybe for “Loser”. If anything, it adds an indifferent layer to the whole by a band is not stuck delivering all-out rock tunes for an album’s length. The result is a confident rock album by a band content to play around.

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