idlewar-2016

IDLEWAR – Impulse

idlewar-impulseBeing a music (rock) fan who loves to find new exciting bands, it’s always nice to find an unheard band’s record in my mailbox. Of course, being the sole writer for this site, it’s impossible to make the time to write a review of every album that comes my way, so there are and will always be records that falls on the way side – and I’m sure I have missed out on a few really cool albums because of that. There have also been albums that I have found really uninteresting but reviewed anyway. See, if I make the time to carefully listen to a record, I make sure to review it the best I can, even if I feel that the record in question might have been one of those I maybe should have skipped. Why I found the debut full length album Impulse by Orange County, CA rockers Idlewar interesting enough to check out even though I hadn’t heard of the band before beats the Hell out of me – I just did. Idlewar is a three-piece power trio which formed in 2014 and has one 5 track E.P. called “Dig In” behind them prior to this record. The band’s influences goes from bands such as AC/DC and Foo Fighters to Clutch, Crobot and Royal Blood, to mention a few and sound-wise, these three heavily bearded (well, two of them are, the third is completely beardless) plays a no bullshit, what you see is what you get, stripped and raw hard rock and roll, destined to kick ass and take names.The members are: James Blake on bass and lead vocals, Rick Graham on guitar and Peter Pagonis on drums.

Opener “Stone In My Heel” is a hard, rough, raw and belting rocker with an early 70’s / late 60’s influence that takes a step into grunge territory – like Hendrix meets Soundgarden. Still, it’s one of those songs that gets stuck to the brain and makes you want to grab a beer and rock out. A very good tune. “Soul” is a direct rocker with a big, chunky groove and a steady beat – very in-your-face, organic and dynamic – I like it a lot. “Criminal” is a sweaty, meaty and rough rocker with a pumping bass and driving guitar licks that comes with a really memorable melody. I think single material here without it being the least radio friendly. The song have some catchiness to it but it is a far away from a Desmond Child chorus as can be – great stuff! “All That I’ve Got” is a slow and bluesy, but still riff-happy rocker. It is very live sounding and I almost get the feeling of standing right next to them when they play it. It’s a good song, but I just can’t get the hang of it – it just won’t stick with me. “Innocent” is a slamming, alternative sounding rocker with a big 90’s grunge feel. Now, I’m not a grunge fan at all and that might be the reason this song doesn’t move me – it’s just doesn’t go anywhere. Still, I must state, it’s not a bad song. “Glory” might just be my favorite song on the album. It’s a heavy bad-ass beast with some Black Sabbath influenced riffing, a big groove and a fat swing – this is bloody awesome, folks. “Apathy” is a song where the music kind of goes with the title – it’s dark and gloomy, but on the other side, the song really does groove and is memorable in a way that gets under the skin. It’s a bit unpleasant in a good way – a great song. “Damage” is a heavier kind of hard rock boogie that comes with a pulsating rhythm and a good, ballsy blues feel, very energetic and striking. Great song! “Burn All This” is a real thick skin groover where Sabbath meets Zeppelin that breaks out some killer riffing and a beat that kicks you in the nuts – very down-to-earth and solid! Closing track “On Our Knees” is a faster rocker with a riff reminiscent of Kiss’ “Hooligan”. It’s a nitty-gritty, down and dirty, raunchy ass-kicker that strikes hard and mean, a great way to end the album.

To sum it up, this is really good album with only some smaller flaws. All the songs doesn’t cut it all the way, but there are enough good songs to motivate a purchase. The sound is very organic, authentic, stripped and raw. It really feels – and sounds – live and I have a feeling that overdubs are a minority here – or none. The sound is on the retro side, but still not retro because of their more “modern” influences – the mix of 70’s rock, grunge, blues and plain hard rock makes Idlewar not just another retro act. I can see this band go down like a storm in a small, cramped rock club and on a festival of some kind. I would love to see these guys bust loose on Sweden Rock Festival in June next year. Until then, here’s their debut album – get it and crank it up!

7/10

Tracklist:

1. Stone In My Heel
2. Soul
3. Criminal
4. All That I’ve Got
5. Innocent
6. Glory
7. Apathy
8. Damage
9. Burn All This
10. On Our Knees