Let’s be honest for just a second shall we. I get a lot of albums sent my way for review and I mean a lot. Most of them don’t do anything for me. They don’t always get happily placed in the CD player, but the ones that do usually get a three song stay of execution and generally if they last past that they get my full unadulterated attention. Sometimes I’m hooked from the first track, and that’s precisely what happened when I put the latest release by Southern California based band Tijuana Bullfight. The CD bursts to life with the fantastic rocked out sound and follows through with a wonderful sequence of songs,14 of them to be exact. It twists and turns the way great albums should with a little bit of rock, a little bit of high octane driven rock-soul and a lot of harmonic goodness. Current Line up: Mark, Anthony, Stan, Tony.
First off I also really like to song line up — the way each song masterfully transitions through to the next creating much in the way of drama. So many bands and record labels get this basic skill wrong. They fail to listen to the songs at their disposal and seemingly throw the album together without giving it any real thought. I’ve known people who work to formulas making sure that their best songs start and finish the album with the remaining tracks squeezed between in a slapdash fashion. That’s not the case with “Southern California.” Some tracks like “Other Than Me” “Black Track” and Fat Baby” could probably survive on its own merits, but the album just flows so well. Second: these 4 could easily heralded as the last of a dying breed of Proud and Loud Hard Rock bands in LA but there is so much more to them. I hear to pigeonhole but I can hear How to Destroy Angels, Fuel, VAST, The Dreaming, Lo-Pro and even Ministry. Visually they kind of remind me of Ratt (hence Stephen Pearcy visuals). Some pieces stand out like the more appealing to a mass audience “”Other Than Me” and “Forever” but there is a deeper and sharper edge to songs like “Round” and “Wide Awake” which is my favorite track on the CD by the way. Thirdly: The strategic interweaving of systemic melody and impressive vocal performances is a delight, but the solid rhythmical foundation of this band is essential to their artistic and commercial potential.
Cover art kind of sucks though. I also wish I heard some high intensity screaming every now than then. Solo guitar is kind of a non-event.
The sound is that of the golden era of popular music in the Eighties on through to the Nineties when musicianship mattered! But the beauty of this record is the use of all mod-cons forcing Tijuanna Bullfight’s relevance into the modern world. They should achieve good support from radio and appear to be critical Hard-Rock darlings of Southern California right now — again the dying breed comment from before. However I’m left bemused how he is not yet a household name. It’s not a case of all the elements being present but the final product being missing as the songs, the musicianship, the production, and the performance all knit together beautifully-even brilliantly. Maybe I’m lucky enough to be in on the ground floor? Maybe things are just about to kick on for Tijuana Bullfight? Whatever it is make sure you get hold of this CD called “Southern California” by Tijuana Bullfight is a must have and in the class of al by itself.
Rating — 8.5/10
Tori Voorhees edited by Michael Rand
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