Wednesday 19 May 2021

Electric Gypsy - Electric Gypsy (2021)

Country: Brazil
Style: Hard Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 29 Apr 2021
Sites: Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Let's virtually travel back to Brazil again but this time for an album at the other end of the rock/metal spectrum to the death/thrash of Torture Squad. Electric Gypsy are a young band from Belo Horizonte on their debut album and, if the modern production values didn't betray it, I'd have sworn it was made back in the late eighties when surely none of the four band members had got round to being born yet. Their particular brand of hard rock is strongly infused by some of the bigger American rock/metal acts of that era, venturing into both melodic rock and hair metal as needed.

The first thing to say is that Electric Gypsy do this really well and, if they can replicate this on stage, it ought to be quite the retro experience. I bet the faster songs rip and the slower songs get sped up for the live audience, making for an energetic and enjoyable night out. The negative thing to bring up in response to that is that we have to look really close to find a single moment of originality. There are a few neat moments where they bring in something new, but mostly they sound like a versatile tribute band from a parallel universe who's covering songs that we've never heard before.

Everything here is at least decent, so there are no tracks you'll want to skip, even on a third or fourth listen. There are certainly weaker songs, but they're still enjoyable, just more forgettable than their stronger peers. I liked Hit and Run, for instance, but it's an odd opener because it feels like a song by a local band who are good enough to get some airplay but not good enough to be able to translate it into something more. Back in the eighties, that would have meant some fans and some success but a split sooner rather than later with musicians going on to different bands to try something different.

That's emphasised by Shoot 'em Down, which follows it, because that's one of my highlights. It's still not original, but it scoots along wonderfully with good riffs and good hooks, it's a radio friendly three and a half minutes and it's catchy enough that it might stick in my head for a couple of weeks. Back in the eighties, this would have had a strong chance of being a hit to break the band into the big time. It would have needed something to back it up, hopefully with a little more depth, but there's Nine Lives (Until I Die) to achieve that and they'd have been off and running.

Nine Lives is one of those songs that wears its influences openly on its sleeve but does something just a little different to elevate it. This one's clearly taken right out of the Mötley Crüe playbook, but it's a little slower and it's jazzed up a little. There's a honky tonk piano in there and the slide guitar is neat, courtesy of a guitarist called Nolas. There's a really cool section late in the song that's all slide, claps and harmonica and it's lively as all get it, sounding like the Crüe at a street carnival.

For other reference points, Love Bomb is Aerosmith, Wild Kiss is inevitably more akin to Kiss, while Rivers Tomorrow is a Bon Jovi style western ballad and The Devil Made Me Do It feels like Y&T translated from heavy metal to a slightly softer and broodier hard rock style. Let It Roll plays in Sammy Hagar era Van Halen territory, with a little touch of brass that was also on Wild Kiss. Roundabout is softer and more reminiscent of a British band like FM but, given all the other influences, I'm sure there's an American equivalent that I should have chosen there instead.

All in all, it would be hard for anyone with a taste for eighties hard rock and heavy metal not to find a lot of enjoyment in this album. The band are clearly capable musicians who play well together and are either having a lot of fun here or doing a good job of faking that atmosphere. Guzz Collins has a good rock voice and he sings in English throughout, so this ought to have international appeal. The best of these songs, like Shoot 'Em Down, Nine Lives and Roundabout, are commercial, radio friendly pieces of music that don't sound alike but all deserve airtime. I'm looking forward to album number two and hope that the band stay as catchy and entertaining but add a little more originality.

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