Friday, 11 January 2019

AfterBurn - Knocking with Your Elbows (2018)



Country: USA
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 28 Dec 2018
Sites: Facebook | Official Website

Every single member of AfterBurn is a firefighter, whether professional or volunteer, so they had my respect before I ever pressed play on their second album. Of course, while that's great for promotion, it really has nothing to do with whether they're a band worth listening to (beyond the appropriate lyrics of All Gave Some), so I'll get it out of the way right now and move on.

I'm happy to say that they don't sound bad at all, though there's nothing new here that you haven't heard before from a whole bunch of other rock bands who turn it up but haven't lost track of the fact that rock came from the blues. After they played support for Faster Pussycat at a New York gig in 2014, they were invited onto their tour card, and it doesn't surprise me for a couple of reasons.

One is that their style fits that sort of bill. Look at the title track, which is an up tempo rocker with a glam edge, or Maybe We Should, which is a slower and clearly suggestive bluesy rock song. They're two very different songs but they fit well next to each other on the album and they'd work well on a stage too as warm up for someone like Faster Pussycat. That goes double for the singalong section at the close of the title track, which sounds like something Flogging Molly might record: 'Who's knocking, knocking at my door? Bring beer, bring beer!'

Another is that there's nothing overly flash here at all. Not one member of the band stands out for special notice, not even the vocalist or guitarist as you might expect from other rock bands, where egos tend to require that someone has to be the star. That's not to say that singer Rich Apps or guitarist Joe Martin, Jr. aren't up to scratch, because they both do their jobs perfectly well, as do Chick Slattery on bass and Mat Sebel on drums, but they're all clearly cogs in a bigger wheel and that wheel surely knows how to move much better than the cogs could on their own.

The same thing goes for the songs, because they're so consistent that it's tough to pick out either a favourite (OK, I'll plump for Climbing the Walls if you insist) or even a least favourite from this agreeable variety of fast rockers and slow ballads. I'm under the impression that these guys can play anything on the fly and make it work. They have influences, of course, but they're not overt and nothing sounds like anyone specific, even though there are hints here and there throughout. AfterBurn is rather like a distillation of the last half century of rock 'n' roll with a special focus on the seventies and eighties.

All in all, it's a solid and reliable album made by folk who clearly know each other very well indeed and work together even better. It gets better as well with a second listen as the songs start to become old friends. I enjoyed it a lot here at home but I'm pretty sure that the best place to experience AfterBurn will be in a Long Island club with a couple of beers inside you.

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