Independent Spotlight is a continuing series on Stewart’s blog. The series revolves around independent artists and bands sending their music to Brett to review. No band is promised a positive review, and all music is reviewed honestly in an effort to better independent music.
In this evening’s edition of the Independent Spotlight, we’re going to be taking a look at a band that describes themselves as a ‘rollercoaster ride with plateaus of happiness and cliffs of terror.’ That’s quite a bio line. In any case, the band is Heavy AmericA and their new self-titled debut dropped in April. It’s a hell of a ride, clocking in with six raging rock tracks. Is it a ride worth the price of admission?
I have to be honest, with a band name like ‘Heavy AmericA,’ I was prepared for a Lynyrd Skynyrd-esque group that dons incredible cheesy American flag paraphernalia and energizes drunken southern audiences. To my joy, Heavy AmericA isn’t like that at all. Their blend of hard rock is reminiscent of British Invasion jams mixed with some of the better elements of American hard rock. ‘Sad Dog,’ the opening of the album,’ is a bit underwhelming, though, and feels forgettable as soon as you exit it.
‘Daddy’ is much more noteworthy. I really dig this jam. It’s got some fantastic electric riffing that builds a retro landscape of epic proportions. Heavy AmericA’s sound is very garagey: the quality isn’t excellent, the production or the mix. However, I could care less about that for this type of act. I’d actually argue that the rough nature of the recordings is alluring in this genre. It feels gritty and real, avoiding any ‘polished’ or ‘commercial’ faux pas.
‘Under Glass’ takes the cake of the first half of the record. This song is beautifully composed, accentuating the band with moody reverberated synths. Quickly, the song evolves into a screeching rocker. After a few moments, it slips back down into soft recess. ‘Under Glass’ exhibits far more range than the two tracks before it and the band will benefit in the future if they tackle more tracks similarly.
What would a rock album be without an introspective rocker about driving aimlessly on a highway? Well, you won’t find out here. ‘Headlights’ assumes that stereotype in full force. To be blunt, it’s so predictable that I couldn’t take it too seriously. It’s like a hard rocking parody of Journey’s ‘Faithfully.’ There isn’t anything wrong with it, but I could point you to a dozen other tracks that are essentially the same thing.
‘Motor Honey’ is far more original, digging Heavy AmericA out of the ditch it drove itself into on the side of the highway with ‘Headlights.’ The vocal performance on this tune is much better than the rest of the record, and I like how short and punchy the track is. It takes all of the proper elements of good hard rock and slaps you in the face with them. That’s good; I can get behind that.
Finally, the album closes out with ‘Sharp Corners,’ a decent track that toys with random switches in tempo. It’s a fine way to end a decent record. That brings to me to my final point: it’s a decent record. It’s not great. It’s a decent start with a bit too many hiccups. The band has a lot of distance to cover before they can put out something of significance. In the mean time, this is a fun rocker for those looking for their fix of 60s hard rock.