As a bit (hrrmm…) of a music nerd, I can’t really grasp the fact that some people stop searching for new music when they reach a certain age and feel content with listening to old Deep Purple and Kiss songs on the radio all day. I mean, nothing wrong with Purple and Kiss at all and there is nothing wrong with not being a complete music freak, no, the people I’m talking about are people who used to have music as a big interest and then they simply just drop it completely. I’m not putting those people down by any means, it’s just that I can’t understand it. I have shitloads of music at home, but still I’d find it a bit boring if there wasn’t anything new coming out. Also, in this day and age, we have the benefit of the internet, an endless source if you’re interested in finding new music. Nowadays you can listen to music for free and see if you like it before you buy it and therefore I can’t see any reasons for me to not check out new stuff.
Now, what has all this has to do with the band Evilyn Strange, you might ask? Well, Evilyn Strange are a new band, a band I would never had heard of if it wasn’t for the internet and other musical nerds who put this stuff up on their websites. And if it wasn’t for the internet, I would probably never have heard these guys even if I had heard of the band. As a father with a job that doesn’t exactly has made me a millionaire, there’s no chance in hell that I would / could afford to take chances and buy stuff just because I got a hunch, like I used to do as a single dude in the 80’s. So thanks to the web and dudes like Mike Ladano and his site www.mikeladano.com, I found out about this band.
Evilyn Strange consists of two English guys, Philip Strange (lead vocals, bass), Al Strange (drums) and one Swedish bloke, lead guitarist Mikael Johannesson and I’m afraid I don’t know much other than that about them. Oh yeah, apparently they hold The Beatles, Whitesnake, Alice In Chains, The Cult and Ozzy Osbourne as their influences. It could be worse, to put it mildly. Just by looking at the cover of their debut album, the artwork has the kind of style that melodic rock, glam and sleaze bands that were trying to break out of the mold and be a little different used to have in the early 90’s just before grunge broke out, had. In those cases the music was also a bit harder and darker but it still kept the catchiness and hooks of the late 80’s. That is, on many occasions, the case of Evilyn Strange’s music as well. The first time I listened to the album – at home – I thought the album sounded good, but I couldn’t really listen to the album meticulously enough, so thank god for headphones. And it took just one more listen to realise the these dudes has a winner on their hands. If people could be bothered to check them out, that is. The promotion for this album hasn’t exactly been overwhelming.
The album starts with the first single “The Ballad Of Evilyn Strange”, a heavy and melodic hard rock killer that reminds me a bit of the sound that Lillian Axe had on their 1991 masterpiece Psychoschizophrenia. Also, the title of the song, the band’s name and the album title suggests that this band and album might have a theme. Who is Evilyn Strange and why is she mourning Phoebe? But it doesn’t look that way. At least, such information is nowhere to be found. “Your Eyes Give You Away” is also great with a sound that was melodic hard rock in the mid nineties, or the perfect mix between grunge and melodic rock, if you will. “Everything” should be a single – a fantastic ballad that just oozes of hit feel. I can also hear traces of obscure, but great bands like Beggars & Thieves and Gun in here, but I’m sure it’s not intentional. I also love the progressive jam at the end of the song. And speaking of ballads, there is a lot of them here, but fear not, this ain’t a ballad album and they are all different to each other. So “Everything You Do (You Do For You) is a more standard sounding ballad, like they was done in the 80’s and therefore I can’t help but to love it and the same goes for “The World Needs Someone Like You”, a power ballad and a hit to be. “Love Finds You” is another killer, all catchy with lots of groove and a hook that could make Desmond Child green with envy. It’s a real late 80’s rocker and had it been released in 1989, it would have been a smash, make no mistake. “Please Don’t Tell Me” is magnificent, a ballad that stands on a foundation of acoustic guitars and a melody to die for, “Just A Little” is an uptempo pop song that could very well result in some massive airplay – I think it’s phenomenal and I just can’t get it out of my head – and the album is brought to an end with “Will You Be There (Kate’s Song)” (Kate. Phoebe. Evilyn. What’s going on here?), an all acoustic ballad that is ridiculously good and a great way to say goodbye for now.
The phrase “all killers, no fillers” fits extremely well for this album. This is an astonishing debut album and I am completely floored here. The style is sometimes 80’s, sometimes 90’s, but mostly it’s both decades in a blender with a twist of the 70’s for the hell of it. Sure, there might be a lot of ballads here, but it really doesn’t matter as they’re all so damn good and again, they are not similar to each other in style. I really hope that people will get around to giving these blokes a break because they certainly deserve it. Me, I’m gonna spread the word as much as I can and yes, I will buy the actual CD.
Jon Wilmenius (9/10)
1. The Ballad of Evilyn Strange
2. Your Eyes Give You Away
4. All That You Do (You Do for You)
5. Narcissistic Bar Statistic
6. The World Needs Someone Like You
7. Love Finds You
8. No Mercy
9. Please Don’t Tell Me
10. Just a Little
11. Will You Be There (Kate’s Song)