From sneering vocals straight off Never Mind the Bollocks to the amped-up 12-bar blues progressions lifted from old Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent 45s, everything about The Lash Outs' debut album screams throwback. It would feel like a grave-digging rip-off if they didn't attack the songs with so much enthusiasm.
The disc opens with the breakneck instrumental "Chupacabra," which was a smart choice. Because, by the time Joey Holbrook' s occasionally grating nasal singing surfaces on the second song, "Set Me Back"—an uncharacteristically dull mid-tempo cokehead lament, the album's only misstep—you're already hooked. It picks up again at track three, "Dream Catcher," with red-hot retro rock lead guitar, handclaps and lines like "How many Jell-O shots does it take/For you to give a guy like me a break?" That kind of witty update on the age-old subject of the unattainable girl, one of pop music's oldest subjects, is what they do best.
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Along with chicks and self-pity, another recurring subject is the sad state of rock. They gripe about empty clubs and unresponsive crowds in Deep Ellum on "The Kids Don't Wanna Dance" (hear it) and brashly close the album by calling out poseurs in skin-tight jeans and Clear Channel radio listeners with "Requiem for Rock and Roll." They may be right when they sing, "Heartbreak, love-make, tears and beers/We sing the same tired song for 50-something years." But if more bands put out albums this lively, there'd be no need to call the mortician.