The New Wave of Classic Rock continues on unabated and the admins of the Facebook group with that name have posted their top thirty for the year. I've reviewed the top three and six of the top ten but I seem to have missed most of the rest. Those Damn Crows topped that chart with Massive Wagons and Collateral behind them, making Twister the top band I haven't listened to yet, so it's time to catch up with them and their debut album that's been five years in the making.
Twister have an interesting sound for a NWoCR band, because it's difficult to figure out their primary influences. To me, they sound like an alternative rock band like Third Eye Blind moving into hard rock territory without necessarily having the expected bedrock to build the traditional sound from. Sure, I caught some Thin Lizzy here and there and they play well alongside the other NWoCR bands, but they don't sound like any of them to me.
Young & Affected isn't light years away from Massive Wagons when it gets to a punky hard rock punch of a chorus, but the song has to get there and I'm taken aback by the verses because, while the drums and vocals do what's expected, the guitars don't. There's no driving riff and the chiming harmonies in there behind the vocal reminds me not of Zeppelin or Sabbath but West African kora music and, given everything else, I don't buy into that being a deliberate influence, even if it keeps showing up, like on Trees and Wild & Lonely. Does that come from Third Eye Blind's autoharp or Blind Melon's melodious guitar?
To my ears, which are admittedly not well versed in alternative rock, it sounds just like they're merely putting the building blocks of rock music together in ways that I don't quite expect. That often works really well. As I get used to this album, and it is taking its time to sink in, however enjoyable it plays on a first listen, it's always the guitars keeping me on the hop.
Stevie Stoker's vocals aren't unusual; he's a solid front man and his voice does exactly what this band needs, but he doesn't show off at any point and it isn't the the style of voice that's going to win a TV talent show. He's here to be part of a band, not to steal the limelight from them. Jack Corbett is just as reliable on drums and he mixes up his rhythms in interesting ways. I'm mostly hearing Ryan Lee's bass when the band ramp up to a chorus and he does the job too.
There are two guitars here, one played by Stoker and the other by Jake Grimes. I don't know how they divvy up lead and rhythm or who's soloing where, but they always catch the ear, as much for me as the hook-laden choruses. Every time I think I've figured out what they're doing and why, they change it to something else. There's a bit of pop punk here, some mainstream band like U2 over there and always a wildcard thrown in to keep it interesting. If that sounds like I'm getting frustrated, I'm not. It's just a grower of an album, so a couple of listens through thus far aren't doing it justice.
It certainly isn't as immediate for me as some of the other albums on that top thirty list. Bands such as Those Damn Crows, Blackwater Conspiracy and even Ryders Creed grabbed me immediately, even if the latter also grew considerably on repeat listens. This sounds good from the outset but it sounds a little disposable too. The more I listened, the more that feeling faded away, leaving just good music. A couple of times through, this is a solid 7/10 and I think it may gain another point with a few more.