RYAN ROXIE – Imagine Your Reality

You know how some people just oozes ROCK STAR by just existing? There are a bunch of them out there – Joe Perry, Keith Richards, Nikki Sixx, Steven Tyler, Ron Wood are some that instantly comes to mind. Well, Ryan Roxie might not be world-famous but damn, this guy sure is one of them. Roxie could be your local bin-man but you’d still know the guy’s a rock star. It’s not about how many records you have sold, it’s about how you carry yourself – some people got it and some don’t. Roxie got it! The first time I heard him play – it was without even knowing who he was – was when I got a hold of the debut album of his first band Electric Angels from 1990. I loved that album. Still do. Since then, Roxie’s been everywhere. He played with Gilby Clarke, Slash’s Snakepit and he was Alice Cooper’s guitarist between 1996 – 2005 and recorded four albums with him.

On his own, Roxie (born Ryan Rosowicz) has had his own bands Dad’s Porno Mag (1997, recorded one album), Roxie 77 (2002, one album) and most recently Casablanca, a Swedish so-called super-group. That’s a bit misleading as most members aren’t that well-known but that was a great band. Casablanca recorded two great albums with Roxie – Apocalyptic Youth (2012) and Ride The Black Swan (2013) but when they released their third album Miskatonic Graffiti, Roxie had quit the band as his day job with Alice Cooper, who he rejoined in 2012, took up too much of his time. So, now it’s time for Roxie’s first ever solo album, an album I think is a long time coming – I thought a solo album was something a guy like Roxie would/could/should have recorded a lot sooner. Be that as it may, with all of his rock star quality and all the good albums he have played on, I looked forward to this one – I think he has all the possibilities in the world to come out with a great one.

Opener “The Rock Show” is a one and a half minute long fist-in-your-face, edgy party-rocker with a big Punk vibe with enough attitude to sell. Energetic and punchy, the tune gives no time to breathe. It’s a pretty good hard rock tune that does its job without flooring me. “Over And Done” is a groovy rocker that brings a good swing and a big Pop feel. The slight Punk twists are mixed with an early 70’s Alice Cooper influence and a memorable melody. But again, the tune is just ok and I miss the big hooks that this refrain should have. “California Man” is a cover of Cheap Trick’s cover of The Move’s song. It’s a very good tune no matter what version you prefer to listen to and the big-ass Rock’n’Roll groove is brutal here. Also, to bring in Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander to guest on vocals is a strike of genius. Awesome!

“To Live And Die In L.A.” is an uptempo sleaze rocker, raunchy and rough and a slight Guns N’Roses vibe. The tune catches on right on the spot but it doesn’t bring on a hit feel – as in radio-friendly. Good tune, I like it. “Uh Oh Song” is a mid-paced rocker with a stomping groove and a bluesy feel. But come the chorus we also get a nice 80’s Arena Rock twist that makes the whole thing catchy and the mix of the bluesy Hard Rock and the Melodic Rock melodies marries like a charm – very good. “Me Generation” is a fat, punchy, sleaze rocker with its feet in the late 80’s – G N’R, Faster Pussycat, L.A. Guns and the likes. Crunchy and groovy, this fuel-injected rocker goes for the KO – and wins. Great tune! “Look Me In The Eye” is a trippy and spacey mid paced hard rocker that holds a very Pop-laden Melodic Rock chorus that mixes The Beatles with Enuff Z’Nuff, so catchy it hurts. This is awesome – and it should be a single!

The roughness is toned down when “Hearts In Trouble” arrives. It’s an uptempo, ballad-ish Pop song that holds a 60’s and 70’s style, softer but not soft with a really good refrain that sticks right away. The smoothness of the tune is a nice breather after seven kick-ass rockers. “Nevermind Me” is a more straight-forward kicking rocker where a sleazier version of Rolling Stones meets 70’s Alice Cooper for a drink or twelve. While all that might sound awesome, the tune really doesn’t do that much for me and I find quite forgettable albeit not bad. The closing track “God Put A Smile Upon Your Face” is the biggest surprise on the album – a Coldplay cover. Now, I can’t stand Coldplay but Roxie manages to make it not lousy. It starts out acoustic but turns rockier still with the acoustic guitar as the base. It’s a somewhat dark tune but also very Pop laden. It’s slower in pace and the melodies are quite memorable. It’s not awesome but at least he made it his own so it doesn’t sound like Coldplay.

Sound wise, this album sounds pretty much what I had expected it to – rattly, crunchy and raw Rock’n’Roll, no more no less. The whole production is dirty and sleazy but the Pop influences are everywhere and I think it sounds damn good. The problem is that the album is not without flaws, the biggest one is called song writing. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a bad album at all and I quite like it, but it just don’t go all the way and too many times it fails to grab me by the neck and kick the living shit out me, something an album like this should do. There’s also not enough hooks and catchiness and choruses that tattoo themselves on the brain – after two brilliant Casablanca records I thought I’d get shitloads of them here. So yes, I’m a bit disappointed as I thought this album would be better than it turned out to be but at the same time I’m glad that it wasn’t bad. Sometimes underwhelming, sometimes really good!

6/10

Tracklist:

1. Big Rock Show
2. Over And Done
3. California Man
4. To Live And Die In LA
5. Uh Oh Song
6. Me Generation
7. Look Me In The Eye
8. Hearts In Trouble
9. Nevermind Me
10. God Put A Smile Upon Your Face

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