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VAINS OF JENNA – The Art of Telling Lies

Vains of Jenna – The Art of Telling Lies (2009, RLS Records/Raw Noise Records)

1. “Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead” … 3:38
2. “Mind Pollution” … 3:23
3. “Refugee” … 3:33
4. “I Belong To Yesterday” … 4:19
5. “Paper Heart” … 6:17
6. “Get It On” … 3:06
7. “Enemy In Me” … 4:02
8. “Better Off Alone” … 5:30
9. “I Don’t Care” … 4:10
10. “The Art of Telling Lies” … 5:58

Band:
Lizzy DeVine – Vocals, Guitar
Nicki Kin – Lead Guitar
JP White – Bass
Jacki Stone – Drums

Producer: Brent Woods

One of Sweden’s best sleaze acts is back and with this album, I think they may have proven they are the kings of sleaze! This album was top priority for me once I discovered the band was readying a new release and as luck would have it, the album found its way to me all due to none other than Stevie Rachelle (Metal Sludge CEO/front man for Tuff), who is now managing the band (thanks again Stevie!) .

Lit Up/Let Down was one of the 2006’s best surprises and The Art of Telling Lies is shaping up to be one of 2009’s best releases. I’m liking it more and more with each spin. The band is still firmly in the sleaze category, but the hooks and melodies are even better this time around.

The album isn’t as raw or as brash as their debut, but the songwriting has really improved with songs like “Paper Heart”, “Enemy In Me” and “The Art of Telling Lies”. The songs are allowed to breathe and it is a definite improvement over their very good debut. Also, there’s a great cover of Tom Petty’s “Refugee”. It caught me off guard at first to hear VoJ covering Tom Petty, but it works really well.

The band opened for Poison and Ratt in 2007 and with a couple of more solid touring gigs like that, they could really start to break. They definitely deserve it, so if you’re not familiar with the band, GET familiar with the band and support one of rock ‘n’ roll’s best kept secrets!

Highlights: “Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead”, “Mind Pollution”, “Refugee”, “Paper Heart”, “Enemy In Me”, “I Don’t Care”, “The Art of Telling Lies”

www.vainsofjenna.com

VAINS OF JENNA – Lit Up/Let Down

Vains of Jenna – Lit Up/Let Down (2006, Filthy Note Records)

1. “Don’t Give a Damn” … 5:49
2. “Ceased Emotions” … 3:22
3. “Hard to Be Vain” … 4:53
4. “Lit Up/Let Down” … 5:42
5. “Get on the Ride” … 4:27
6. “Baby’s Got a Secret” … 3:55
7. “No One’s Gonna Do It for You” … 3:12
8. “Set It Off” … 6:28
9. “No One’s Gonna Do It for You (Acoustic)” … 3:21
10. “Set It Off (Acoustic)” … 6:23

Band:
Lizzy DeVine – Vocals, Guitar
Nicki Kin – Guitar
JP White – Bass
Jacki Stone – Drums

Produced by: Bam Margera

Vains of Jenna are one of the better bands to come from the Sweden glam/sleaze scene and were the first band that made me take notice of that whole scene going on over there. This album is good time sleazy ‘n’ dirty rock and Lizzy DeVine’s vocals are a perfect fit and never comes across as too European sounding, as some European glam/sleaze singers do.

My only beef is the inclusion of the two acoustic versions of “No One’s Gonna Do It for You” and “Set It Off”. There’s nothing wrong with the acoustic versions, but it just seems a little silly to include those on a 10-track album. I would’ve rather heard two different songs instead of them already digging into doing alternate versions on such a short album. “Lit Up/Let Down” is easily the best track, a great mid-tempo ballad.

I don’t really care for Bam Margera, but kudos to him for seeing the talent in these guys and signing them to his indie label. These guys would’ve had a decent career in the late 80s.

Highlights: “Don’t Give a Damn”, “Ceased Emotions”, “Lit Up/Let Down”, “”Hard to Be Vain”,  “Set It Off”

www.vainsofjenna.com
www.myspace.com/vainsofjenna

HINDER – Take It to the Limit

Hinder – Take It to the Limit [Deluxe Edition with Best Buy Exclusive Tracks] (2008, Universal Republic Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Use Me” … 3:49
2. “Loaded and Alone” … 4:06
3. “Last Kiss Goodbye” … 3:48
4. “Up All Night” … 3:33
5. “Without You” … 3:52
6. “Take It To The Limit” … 3:11
7. “The Best Is Yet To Come” … 3:22
8. “Heaven Sent” … 3:41
9. “Thing For You” … 3:59
10. “Lost In The Sun” … 3:52
11. “Far From Home” … 4:03
BONUS TRACKS
12. “Heaven Sent (Live)” … 3:42
13. “Loaded and Alone (Acoustic)” … 3:34
14. “Lost in the Sun (Live)” … 3:46
15. “The Best is Yet to Come (Acoustic)” … 3:21
16. “Without You (Acoustic)” … 3:52
17. “Use Me (Live)” … 4:30

DVD:
1. The Making of Take It to the Limit
2. Behind the Scenes at the Photo Shoot

Band:
Austin Winkler – Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Joe “Blower” Garvey – Guitar
Mark King – Guitar
Mike Rodden – Bass
Cody Hanson – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Mick Mars – Guitar (“Take It to the Limit”)
Brian Howes – Guitar, Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Paul Laine – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Brian Howes

This band became big with their debut, 2005’s Extreme Behavior. They came off as just another bland modern hard rock band to me at the time, and their big hit, “Lips of an Angel” didn’t appeal to me lyrically at all (it’s about cheating your girlfriend).

I did like Winkler’s voice though and while I’m not sure how Extreme Behavior sounds, this album absolutely rocks. There’s a movement going on in rock right now where the bands are actually (GASP!) having fun and incorporating the fun and party style of the 80s hard rock scene and I think that’s great. Hinder actually reminds me a lot of Buckcherry with this release. They aren’t *as* 80s sleazy as Buckcherry is, but the influence is definitely here. The album pretty much only about one thing: sex. Breaking it down further, it’s about having sex and getting cheated on.

The use of “gang vocals” and catchy glam-inspired guitar work makes this album a winner. I bought the deluxe CD/DVD edition, but because I bought it at Best Buy, I also got six exclusive Best Buys tracks with it (with are live & acoustic takes of some of the album’s songs). I’m not sure how much work was done on those live cuts, but the band sounds great.

And the album packaging? Nothing but a total winner. I was very surprised to open up the flaps and see some absolutely gorgeous naked women (Playboy Playmates!) and breasts so up close. The deluxe edition even includes some “photo cards” done up to look like Polaroids that feature the band with even more naked girls. The booklet has EVEN more naked girls laying about while the band parties on. This is one the greatest album packaging jobs EVER! 1o out of 10! This is what 80s hair bands *wish* their labels would’ve let them done. If you’re still not convinced of Hinder’s dedication to L.A. strip excess, the managed to snag Motley Crue’s Mick Mars for some guitar work and even ex-Danger Danger lead singer Paul Laine to help with the backing vocals.

The DVD ‘Making of’ feature is actually pretty cool. It walks you through (DUH!) the making of the album and the band walks you around the studio, their living spaces during the recording and just generally goofing around. They also mention the success of Extreme Behavior allowed them more freedom with this release and they were able to use their 80s influences more in writing and recording the songs. So there ya go, I guess Take It to the Limit *is* different sounding from their debut. The photo shoot portion is, obviously, very cool and it’s full of “hot-ass fuckin’ chicks” as bassist Mike Rodden says.

If I had heard this album in 2008, it probably would’ve made my Top 10. That just how good I think it is. I’m definitely converted now and would love to see these guys in concert. Modern sleaze metal is big in Europe, but Hinder gives me hope for the good ol’ USA. Watching the DVD, it’s obvious they are starting to make the kind of music they like and are determined to bring fun back to rock.

Just a great release that I can’t stop listening to.

Highlights: “Use Me”, “Loaded and Alone”, “The Last Kiss Goodbye”, “Up All Night”, “Take It to the Limit”, “Without You”, Heaven Sent”, “Far From Home”, “Loaded and Alone (Acoustic)”, “Use Me (Live)”

www.hindermusic.com
www.myspace.com/hindermusic

DANGER – First Touch

Danger – First Touch (2008, Self-financed EP)

Track Listing:
1. “First Touch” … 3:11
2. “Miss Money” … 3:00
3. “Hey You” … 3:23
4. “California Red” … 2:48
5. “Shove It”… 3:25
6. “On The Run” [Bonus Track] … 3:36

Band:
Jesse Kid – Vocals
Rob Paris – Guitar
Togge Rock – Bass
Danny Crash – Drums

I actually first heard of this band thanks to Hard Rock Hideout, sampled some of their music online, and now, here I am with with their 2008 EP in my hands.

And an enjoyable EP it is from these Swedish glam/sleaze rockers. Why is it all the glam bands are coming from Sweden? Must be something in the water because Danger joins the ranks of the new wave of glam & sleaze alongside other fine Swedish bands such as Crashdiet and Vains of Jenna.

The first thing I have to say is that Jesse Kid’s vocals are just perfect for this kind of music as he delivers a sleazy, sneering, and snotty performance on each track.

As for songs, “On The Run” is the standout for me, so simple and so catchy. “First Touch” is a great opener to set the tone and give you an idea what the band is all about. And how ’bout that cover? Now THAT is a great album cover!

The band has been around since 2003, but only took up the glam/sleaze sound in 2006 (previously playing heavy metal with a few different members) and have yet to release a full studio release. I hope this is only but a taste of things to come because the band has a lot of potential and promise.

Worth tracking down because this EP would not sound out of place in anyone’s 80s glam/sleaze collection… and that’s a good thing.

Highlights: “First Touch”, “California Red”, “Shove It”, “On The Run”

www.danger.se
www.myspace.com/bestdanger
www.metalrevelation.com
www.myspace.com/metalrevelationpromotion

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